QPP Syphilis Campaign .pdf

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SYPHILIS is caused by a spiral-like bacteria called
Treponema pallidum. If syphilis is left undiagnosed and
untreated it can cause very serious long term health
consequences, including heart conditions, nervous
system breakdown, brain function impacts, and death.
Syphilis can affect anyone regardless of their sexuality.
Higher rates of syphilis notifications have occurred in
young Indigenous people and among HIV-negative and
HIV-positive gay men.
TRANSMISSION
Syphilis is easy to catch through oral sex or from
skin-to-skin contact if there is a skin rash or syphilis sores
(chancre) which may go unnoticed. Therefore, even if you
use condoms, sexual foreplay (skin-to-skin body contact)
and oral sex are still a high risk for contracting syphilis –
your sexual partner may be unaware of their infection if
they haven’t been tested.
Sexual transmission usually occurs during the
primary (2-3 months) and secondary stages (2-6
months). Syphilis is highly contagious during these times,
but transmission may also occur within 2 years of
infection (during early latency, even without any
symptoms).

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TESTING
Ask your doctor or sexual health clinic for a test if
you think you’ve been exposed to syphilis.
There is a period of 2-3 weeks before an infection can
be detected on a test, though this period can be up to
3 months. Rapid syphilis tests are also available from
QPP’s RAPID clinics in Brisbane and the Gold Coast –
results are provided in 15 minutes and no
appointment is required (www.rapid.org.au).
Rapid syphilis tests are only reliable if you have
never had a previous syphilis infection (because
antibodies can persist for life), so if you have had
syphilis before you are best to test for a current new
infection at your medical or sexual health clinic.
If you are having any sex get a yearly test, and
whenever you change sex partners. If you are having
any condom-less sex, or sex with multiple partners
(>10 within 6 months) or group sex, or using
recreational drugs during sex – get a test every 3
months (4 times a year).
If you are HIV-positive, consider the above testing
recommendations as it is best to test every 3 months
due to the added impact of having HIV and syphilis.

SYMPTOMS
Chancre sores are generally small reddish open lesions
and can occur just about anywhere, inside the mouth, on
the lips, or in the genital or anal areas (and in the rectum)
– making them sometimes hard to see and sometimes
they are painful but can also be painless. These will often
heal and disappear within a few weeks, even if untreated,
and a person can still pass on syphilis without these. A
rash may also occur on your palms and soles of feet or
other parts of your body.
Other symptoms may also emerge such as swollen
glands, fever, headaches, fatigue, muscle and joint aches
and pains, weight loss and hair loss.
In the early stages of infection symptoms may not
always occur, this is why it’s important to test regularly
for syphilis if you are sexually active.
The progression of syphilis can occur more quickly if
you also have HIV, which can make syphilis harder to
treat. Like all STIs it is best to diagnose and treat them
early, before they progress to more serious stages.

QU EE N S L A N D
P O SI T IV E P E OP L E
SIN C E 1 9 8 9

Your doctor can provide a test, or find your nearest
sexual health service here: www.tinyurl.com/hnrp7wg

P AGE 1
SY P HILLI S
FAC T S HEE T

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PREVENTION
If you have been diagnosed with syphilis, it is safest
not to have sex, even with a condom, until 1 week
after the first treatment and all symptoms have gone.

You can get syphilis again even if you had it
before. If you have previously been treated for

syphilis, it is still very easy to catch again.

There is no vaccine against syphilis.
Condoms provide partial protection, but may not
prevent all risks of syphilis. Syphilis can occur in the
mouth, so oral sex without a condom can also be a
risk. A skin rash may also occur (which can be hard
to see) so any skin-to-skin body contact is also a risk.
However, condoms will provide genital and anal
protection, so it’s still important to use condoms to
assist in the prevention of syphilis.
Having a syphilis infection may also increase your
chances of passing on HIV, as it may increase HIV
viral load in semen and pre-cum (even with an
undetectable HIV viral load in blood).
CONTACT TRACING
It is important to inform sexual partners to prevent
transmission and reinfection.
Contact tracing (or partner notification) is where any
sexual partners you have had since you may have
become infected with an STI should also go for a
sexual health test check, as they may also need to be
treated.
Not all STIs need contact tracing (such as herpes or
genital warts), but the more serious and health
impacting conditions do (such as chlamydia,
gonorrhoea, syphilis, hepatitis, etc.).

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The following websites can assist you to anonymously
notify your sexual partners:


www.letthemknow.org.au

www.bettertoknow.org.au/notify
www.thedramadownunder.info
TREATMENT
Syphilis is easy to treat (and cure) with penicillin
injections. The length of treatment depends upon
the stage the infection. If left untreated the condition
enters a period of latent infection, with no obvious
symptoms. At this stage, even without symptoms,
the infection may cause serious damage to
internal organs such as the heart, brain, liver, nerves
and eyes. This latent stage may persist for years,
or decades, and it may lead to tertiary (end stage)
syphilis, resulting in conditions such as blindness,
difficulty walking, talking and eating. Tertiary syphilis
is very difficult to treat and is life threatening.
READ MORE ABOUT SYPHILIS


www.tinyurl.com/ja25j7t

www.healthdirect.gov.au/syphilis
www.tinyurl.com/gnb3c8z

For further information and assistance please
contact: Queensland Positive People (QPP)
Toll Free (within Queensland): 1800 636 241
Phone: 07 3013 5555
Email: info@qpp.org.au
Website: www.qpp.org.au

Your diagnosing doctor can discuss partner
notification needs with you.
If contact tracing is recommended, there are ways to
let your partners know they may have been exposed
to an STIs without disclosing your identity
(i.e. anonymously).

QU EE N S L A N D
P O SI T IV E P E OP L E
SIN C E 1 9 8 9

P AGE 2
SY P HILLI S
FAC T S HEE T

SYPHILIS IS ON THE RISE

TEST EVERY THREE MONTHS

WHERE TO TEST?

SEE YOUR DOCTOR OR SEXUAL HEALTH CLINIC

FIND YOUR NEAREST TESTING CENTRE TODAY:
WWW.TINYURL.COM/HNRP7WG

P L E A S E C O N S I D E R W H E T H E R T H I S I N F O R M AT I O N I S R E L E VA N T TO YO U R N E E D S O R C I R C U M S TA N C E S.

SYPHILIS IS ON THE RISE

TEST EVERY THREE MONTHS

WHERE TO TEST?

SEE YOUR DOCTOR OR SEXUAL HEALTH CLINIC

FIND YOUR NEAREST TESTING CENTRE TODAY:
WWW.TINYURL.COM/HNRP7WG

P L E A S E C O N S I D E R W H E T H E R T H I S I N F O R M AT I O N I S R E L E VA N T TO YO U R N E E D S O R C I R C U M S TA N C E S.

SYPHILIS IS ON THE RISE

TEST EVERY THREE MONTHS

WHERE TO TEST?

SEE YOUR DOCTOR OR SEXUAL HEALTH CLINIC

FIND YOUR NEAREST TESTING CENTRE TODAY:
WWW.TINYURL.COM/HNRP7WG

P L E A S E C O N S I D E R W H E T H E R T H I S I N F O R M AT I O N I S R E L E VA N T TO YO U R N E E D S O R C I R C U M S TA N C E S.

SYPHILIS IS ON THE RISE

TEST EVERY THREE MONTHS

WHERE TO TEST?

SEE YOUR DOCTOR OR SEXUAL HEALTH CLINIC

FIND YOUR NEAREST TESTING CENTRE TODAY:
WWW.TINYURL.COM/HNRP7WG

P L E A S E C O N S I D E R W H E T H E R T H I S I N F O R M AT I O N I S R E L E VA N T TO YO U R N E E D S O R C I R C U M S TA N C E S.

HIV POSITIVE = SYPHILIS CAN BE WORSE
NO SYMPTOMS? = SYPHILIS IS STILL DAMAGING YOUR BODY
TREATMENT = SYPHILIS CAN BE CURED
HAD SYPHILIS BEFORE? = YOU CAN GET IT AGAIN
ORAL SEX = RISK OF GETTING SYPHILIS
CONDOMS = LESS CHANCE OF GETTING SYPHILIS

MORE INFO? Q U E E N S L A N D P O S I T I V E P E O P L E


07 3013 5555 or info@qpp.org.au

HIV POSITIVE = SYPHILIS CAN BE WORSE
NO SYMPTOMS? = SYPHILIS IS STILL DAMAGING YOUR BODY
TREATMENT = SYPHILIS CAN BE CURED
HAD SYPHILIS BEFORE? = YOU CAN GET IT AGAIN
ORAL SEX = RISK OF GETTING SYPHILIS
CONDOMS = LESS CHANCE OF GETTING SYPHILIS

MORE INFO? Q U E E N S L A N D P O S I T I V E P E O P L E


07 3013 5555 or info@qpp.org.au

HIV POSITIVE = SYPHILIS CAN BE WORSE
NO SYMPTOMS? = SYPHILIS IS STILL DAMAGING YOUR BODY
TREATMENT = SYPHILIS CAN BE CURED
HAD SYPHILIS BEFORE? = YOU CAN GET IT AGAIN
ORAL SEX = RISK OF GETTING SYPHILIS
CONDOMS = LESS CHANCE OF GETTING SYPHILIS

MORE INFO? Q U E E N S L A N D P O S I T I V E P E O P L E


07 3013 5555 or info@qpp.org.au

HIV POSITIVE = SYPHILIS CAN BE WORSE
NO SYMPTOMS? = SYPHILIS IS STILL DAMAGING YOUR BODY
TREATMENT = SYPHILIS CAN BE CURED
HAD SYPHILIS BEFORE? = YOU CAN GET IT AGAIN
ORAL SEX = RISK OF GETTING SYPHILIS
CONDOMS = LESS CHANCE OF GETTING SYPHILIS

MORE INFO? Q U E E N S L A N D P O S I T I V E P E O P L E


07 3013 5555 or info@qpp.org.au


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