SYPHILIS
Another deadly sexually transmitted disease, Syphilis is characterized by generalized rash or sores on the genitals/anus/mouth. Often, it produces no symptoms making diagnosis difficult.

Prevalence:

  • More common among heterosexuals/bisexuals
  • Affects both males and females
  • High incidence rates in the age group of 20-29 years

Spreads through:

  • Direct contact with the syphilitic sores
  • Unprotected sex
  • Oral or anal sex
  • Pregnant mother to baby
  • Men having sex with other men

Symptoms:
There are 4 stages of syphilis as follows:

A. Primary syphilis:

  • Painless sores on the affected area usually the genitals or anus.
  • Round, firm sores or ulcers or chancres are typical of syphilis.
  • Highly contagious sores easily transmit the infection.
  • Increased chances of contracting HIV
  • Appears approximately 3-4 weeks after infection exposure
  • Usually, heals on its own within 2-6 weeks but treatment recommended to avoid progression to the secondary stage.

B. Secondary Syphilis:

  • Generalized, non-itchy rash on the entire body
  • Reddish-brown colored rash, mainly on the palms and soles
  • Warts on the affected area
  • Flu-like symptoms such as fever, body ache, sore throat, headache
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Weight loss
  • Usually, this stage resolves on its own but treatment should be taken to clear off the infection.

C. Latent Syphilis:
Silent syphilis does not produce any symptoms.

D. Tertiary or Late Syphilis:

  • Untreated syphilis progresses to this advanced stage
  • Multiple organ damage such as heart, brain, liver, etc
  • Can affect nerves causing paralysis, blindness, numbness
  • Other complications include stroke, memory loss, tumors or even death.
  • Late-stage may develop decades after the initial infection, staying dormant for years.

Congenital Syphilis:   Syphilis in a pregnant woman may result in stillbirth or the baby may have:

  • Low birth weight
  • Infections
  • Saddle nose i.e. collapsed nasal bone
  • Rash
  • Deafness
  • Dental deformities
  • Predisposition to other neonatal diseases

Prevention:

  • Safe sex
  • Sex with a single partner
  • Avoid sharing sex toys
  • Avoid sharing needles for drug infusions.
  • Regular testing for STDs

Diagnosis:
By testing blood samples or discharges from the chancres.

Treatment:
Easily cured by medications during initial stages.

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