I’ve been seeing lots of cases of syphilis in recent weeks. This nasty bug has been causing strife amongst gay men for quite a while. Plenty of famous people throughout the ages have suffered from it, including Oscar Wilde and Henry VIII. It’s transmitted through sex or even just very close physical contact, so it’s very easy to catch.
The symptoms of syphilis are quite random, and are often mistaken for something harmless. You can get a rash, or sore glands, fevers, a sore that won’t heal, and a host of other symptoms. I’ve even seen headaches as the initial symptom. So you can see that it’s not actually that easy to tell if you have syphilis. Luckily there are good tests available to detect it – a blood test, and also you can have swabs of any ulcers or sores.
Why all the fuss? Well untreated syphilis can cause serious disease, it can get into your nervous system and send you mad. If you happen to already have HIV, syphilis can be much more serious and harder to treat.
Treatment is a single painful jab of penicillin into the backside, that’s if you get treated early in the course of the infection. The longer you have had it, the greater the risk of more severe health problems, and the longer the course of treatment that is needed.
The best way to diagnose syphilis early is to be on the lookout for it – a good rule is that if you’re having sexual contact with others, even if you think it’s safe, it’s sensible to have a syphilis test every 3 months. I recommend you have this test as part of a general sexual health checkup, where we can check you at the same time for other things such as HIV, Hepatitis, Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea.
If you get a weird rash or a sore that won’t heal, or you just want peace of mind, come in and get a syphilis test!