What is syphilis?
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by a bacterium. Syphilis can cause long-term complications and/or death if not adequately treated.
How common is syphilis?
There were 46,042 new cases of syphilis in 2011, compared to 48,298 estimated new diagnoses of HIV infection and 309,341 cases of gonorrhea in 2010. Of new cases of syphilis, 13,970 cases were of primary and secondary (P&S) syphilis, the earliest and most infectious stages of syphilis. In 2011, 72% of P&S syphilis occurred among men who have sex with men. There were also 360 reports of children with congenital syphilis in 2011.
How do people get syphilis?
Syphilis is transmitted from person to person by direct contact with syphilis sores. Sores occur mainly on the external genitals, vagina, anus, or in the rectum. Sores also can occur on the lips and in the mouth. Syphilis can be
transmitted during vaginal, anal, or oral sexual contact. Pregnant women with the disease can pass it to their unborn children.
To read more about this topic, including symptoms and treatments, please see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You may also wish to see related HealthyNJ pages: Chlamydia, Genital Herpes, Genital Warts, Gonorrhea, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, and Trichomoniasis and other Sexually Transmitted Infections.