A cowboy might not be all you pick up at Ekka

The Ekka is here and we all know what that means… more guys on Grindr, more guys in the SOPV’s and more colds, flus and viruses to be shared around. Syphilis is also on the rise in some regions of Queensland, so if you haven’t been tested for syphilis recently, now is the time.

By Tammy Rudduck

Syphilis is easily diagnosed and completely treatable. Rapid testing for syphilis is available, which will give you a result in less than 20 minutes. Treatment is usually just a shot of penicillin in the bum. It’s that easy! However, left untreated the syph can cause damage to many of your internal organs including the brain and nervous system as well as more obvious signs like ulcers, rashes and wart-like lumps at the infection site/s. Undiagnosed STIs like syphilis can also increase the risk of HIV and other STIs.

The first sign of a syphilis infection is usually a painless sore or ulcer at the infection site. This can be on or in the bum, penis, throat or anywhere else on the body. Depending on the location, sores may not always be noticeable so you may be carrying syphilis without even realising. Sores or ulcers may also disappear after a few weeks, but the syph is still in your body and starting to cause havoc.

Because syphilis is passed on during skin to skin sexual contact, condoms do not always offer full protection (though they do help). Unlike HIV, oral sex is one of the main ways of catching or passing on syphilis.

With rapid testing available for syphilis, there is no reason not to get tested regularly. If you haven’t had a recent syphilis test and haven’t had syphilis before*, come down to the RAPID clinic at 2 Winn St, Fortitude Valley on Tues – Fri, 3 – 8pm or Sat 12- 5pm and get tested. RAPID is able to provide free rapid syphilis (and HIV) testing with results in 20 minutes, and is a walk-in service. Give us a call on 3013 5566 or www.rapid.org.au for more information.

* If you have had syphilis in the past then the RAPID test doesn’t apply, but you can go to your regular sexual health service provider and get the test.

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