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Syphilis: What is it?

What is syphilis?

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease that is caused by a bacterial infection. It is usually contracted during sexual intercourse. If not treated, this STD can cause long-term complications. In its early stages, syphilis can be treated easily.

This infection progresses through several stages. When syphilis gets to its later stages, it becomes hard to treat it and it can be very dangerous to the body. The syphilis infection can be passed during unprotected sex with an infected person, which can be sexual oral or anal. The infection can also be passed from mother to the fetus during pregnancy.

Learn more about syphilis from the CDC.

Signs and symptoms of syphilis

The first sign of syphilis is the appearance of a single sore. One or more sores may appear at the location where syphilis entered the body. These sores are usually firm, round and painless, so it is easy for them to go unnoticed. The sore will heal — whether or not the person is treated.

If the person infected is not treated at this point, the infection will progress to the next stage.

During the secondary stage, the common symptoms include skin rashes and sores. Rashes may begin appearing at the same time as the sores, or several weeks after the sores have healed. Rashes may be noticeable or very faint. Some people also experience headaches, weight loss, muscle aches or fever, among other symptoms.

If the disease is still untreated, it will progress into the late and latent stages. People can show signs of late syphilis up to 30 years after infection. Symptoms of the late stage include numbness, gradual blindness, difficulty coordinating muscle movements and dementia. The disease damages the internal organs and can result in death.

Preventing syphilis

You can help prevent being infected with syphilis by using condoms to reduce the risk. There is still a risk of contraction. Abstaining from sexual contact is the safest way to prevent being infected. If you have one partner, make sure that both of you are tested for syphilis and other STDs. Talk to your partner about testing to make sure each of you are protected. If you’re ready to get tested with your partner, find an ARCpoint Labs location near you.

sexually transmitted disease syphilis


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Trich, Less Well Known STD but Dangerous

Trich isn’t anything new. But you might not be aware of this sexually transmitted disease. It isn’t talked about nearly as much as the others. Its name isn’t as simple as HIV or herpes. But if untreated, it can be very dangerous.

It’s called “Trich”

It’s actually called trichomoniasis. There are 7 to 8 million new cases of trich each year (source), making it one of the most common STDs around. Only 30 percent of those who get this parasite through sex develop symptoms, which include

  • itching
  • burning
  • redness or soreness of the genitals
  • discomfort with urination
  • thin discharge with an unusual smell that can be clear, white, yellowish, or greenish

Dangerous for pregnant women

Pregnant-women-with-Trich-run-the risk-of-low-weight-babies.Women with trich become high risk in the event they get pregnant. Early labor, passing on an STD to the baby before or during labor, pneumonia may all occur. (source). Women with trich may also have babies with low birth weight.

Treatment for Trich

Though it’s dangerous when left untreated, trich is curable with antibiotics. If you’re suffering from trich, speak to doctor about treatment. Symptoms can be prevented. You just need to be proactive.

You may not have heard of it before but…

Though it’s not as commonly known as HIV, herpes, chlamydia or syphilis, trich is very real. If you’re sexually active, you need to get STD tested. There are so many risks you need to be aware of… it’s not worth the risk.

Need an STD testing partner? Our friends at ARCpoint Labs offer affordable, confidential STD testing. Blood or urine tests can determine if you have an STD. Results returned quickly! Find the nearest ARCpoint Labs to you!

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STDs Are Growing Most… Among Seniors.

Senior-citizens-seeing-rise-in-STDsSexually transmitted diseases are on the rise. It’s a troubling thought that might actually make you cringe.

If you assume sexually transmitted diseases are growing most rapidly among high school students and college students… you are wrong.

The group seeing the biggest rise in STDs? Senior citizens.

Consider this…

You probably didn’t know that 80% of people 50 and older are still sexually active. Perhaps that statistic lends itself to this one: Chlamydia and syphilis are tripling among this age group (source).

Why STDs on the rise among seniors?

While I’m sure there are a host of reasons why STDs are on the rise among seniors – here are some reasons that could contribute to our growing problem:

  • People are living longer and divorce is on the rise.
  • Seniors aren’t worrying about pregnancy, so they may avoid using condoms.
  • Older men are the target of erectile dysfunction, medicines can help them & encourage sexual activity.
  • Senior citizens may not have received safe sex education when they were younger.
  • Online dating – which seniors are definitely involved in.

If you were confused as to why your grandmother got a Facebook page, maybe you should be more confused about her profile on Zoosk….

Why are STDs in seniors a problem?

First off, the growth of STDs are a danger to everyone and for senior citizens… they can complicate their health and endanger any sexual partner.

Secondly, this can play into medicare for the senior citizens, an already sensitive subject these days.

How do we change this?

Well – seniors – LISTEN UP:

You are NOT immune to STDs. Sexually Transmitted Diseases are NOT just for young people.

You risk your health when you have unprotected sex. Though pregnancy may not be an issue, you should still be using protection. Simple as that.

Afraid you have an STD already? Find our friends at ARCpoint Labs and walk-in to request the cash-pay test yourself… no need to tell doc about this one quite yet.


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An STD Breeding Ground

You’d think headlines like this would come across more often than they do:

Syphilis scare halts porn industry filming in LA as health officials investigate

Yep, there’s a huge business centered around the “sex industry” that keeps on going, despite the risk of STDs. That is, until a positive STD test occurs and the industry halts production of new “material” until all actors can be notified and STD tested. Oh – and given antibiotics to kill the STD “just in case” they happen to have it.

According to CBS, this past week’s production stand-still wasn’t the first time the porn industry has halted production because of STD threats or occurrence. Over the past several years, positive HIV tests have caused a stop in production and mandated STD tests and treatment. With the nature of the industry (and without mandated use of condoms), we have a feeling this won’t be the last time this occurs.


Not a shocker: the porn industry carries a high risk of STDs

A breeding ground for STDs

We’re not out to take a position on the industry in this post – but what we will say is that the porn industry is an obvious breeding ground for STDs. The reason STDs are such a problem is because of 1) multiple sexual partners 2) lack of condom use and 3) lack of STD testing. And this industry takes all of these issues and puts them on a stage for the world to see. There’s no disguising or hiding the fact the porn actors are at risk for STDs. Our hope is that the industry makes a strong commitment to routine STD testing and takes steps toward STD prevention. Because like it or not, the world is watching.

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What’s this about the US, Guatamala & STDs?

As an STD blog, we can’t not bring up some headlines that are out there right now in STD-land. The U.S. Government would probably prefer that we sweep these reports under the rug, however if CNN is going to cover it – we’re going to comment on it. Plus it’s an important (albeit unfortunate) chapter in our nation’s history and important to the “war on STDs.”

Guatemalans Fighting Government on STD Experiments

If you have no idea what’s going on, here’s a brief summary per the article on CNN:

  • Between 1946 and 1948, the U.S. conducted STD experiments on Guatemalans
  • They used “female commercial sex workers, prisoners in the national penitentiary, patients in the national mental hospital and soldiers” for their experiments.”
  • CNN reports, “According to the study, more than 1,600 people were infected: 696 with syphilis, 772 with gonorrhea and 142 with chancres”
  • The studies were done to “determine the effectiveness of penicillin in treating or preventing syphilis after subjects were exposed to the disease.”

Read the full article on Guatemalans to file appeal over STD Experiments on CNN.

Tuskegee-syphilis-study doctor-injecting-subject

Guatemalans weren't the only ones who fell victim to STD experimentation. Tuskegee, Alabama also is a dark chapter in our country's history.

What to Make of STD Experiments

We can only hope that the discontinuation on humans for the exploration of STD prevention and cure is over. The sad story is that those in Guatemala weren’t the only victims of STD experimentation. The Tuskegee syphilis experiment will really make you cringe. Thankfully our current administration is apologetic and regretful for actions that happened over the past several decades and laws have subsequently been written to prevent this type of activity from happening again.

As an STD blog, we mention this incident and ongoing proceedings to bring to light the history of STDs. We by no means advocate what the U.S. did when they infected human subjects with STDs. We bring it up to say that STDs were a problem back then, and they continue to be a problem now. In 2012, STDs seem like such a common problem, even sometimes a “new” problem. However these reports show that this issue spans many decades. And even more, this issue was as big of a problem and concern then as it is now.

Testing and human experimentation isn’t the answer to stopping the STD problem. Abstinence, monogamy, STD testing, STD education and safe-sex practices are the answer. We now know that medication (such as penicillin) can cure some STDs and scientists continue to research (through ethical ways) cures for STDs that are not respondent to modern medicines. As we spread the world through homes, communities, schools, workplaces and more, may these ways become the methods for curing and preventing our nation’s STD problem.

Worried you have an STD?

Find a local walk-in STD testing center near you. No co-pays needed.


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Know your STDs & How to Prevent Them: Syphilis

You might think with a name like “syphilis,” this STD is a little less minor than say herpes or gonorrhea. It sounds like it could be similar to the sniffles or a sneeze. However pull back the truth on this STD, known as the “great imitator” and you’ll see there’s nothing minor about this disease at all.


Syphilis is like the "cosmo" of STDs. It's not as common as say chlamydia or gonorrhea. It's found in young adults. However it's pretty serious and can cause some major damage if left untreated.

What is Syphilis?

Unlike some of the other STDs commonly found in teens, syphilis is actually more common in young adults aged 20-39. It’s the cosmo of STDs – not as common as gonorrhea or chlamydia but certainly just as harmful and quite sophisticated. Plus, it can be passed along to newborn babies. Syphilis is like herpes in the fact it’s identified by sores. However like many of the other STDs, symptoms often go unnoticed and unfortunately untreated.

Syphilis Sores & Symptoms

Syphilis is first spotted via sores. This mostly occurs in the “below the belt” areas – but may also occur around the lips or mouth. There are three “stages” of syphilis:

First stage of syphilis

One small sore will appear. It typically doesn’t hurt, is very small and painless. CDC says average time it takes for this sore to show up is around 21 days (could be shorter or longer.) This sore will clear up without treatment – however if it’s not properly treated, you could have big problems on your hands.

Second stage of syphilis

Rash. It may or may not itch. Plus, it will appear in odd places like your hands & feet. The rash may also appear on other parts of the body, but be very faint. Other symptoms that might occur are mucus membranes, flu-like symptoms, weight loss, hair loss and more. Again, this state might clear up on its own but without proper treatment it will continue to advance.

Latent stage of syphilis

This occurs after symptoms of the first and second stage have cleared up. Although there are no signs of disease or that something is wrong – it’s not that syphilis has gone away. It’s just hanging out – and unfortunately possibly even spreading to other people and damaging your internal organs. CDC says about 15% of people make it to this stage. It can occur even 10-15 YEARS after you first came down with the disease.

Why get Treated for Syphilis?

If you’re sleeping with multiple partners and there’s even a slim chance that you’ve been with someone with syphilis, you need to get STD tested. In it’s early stages, it’s a simple cure with an antibiotic. In a secondary stage, a few rounds of antibiotics are needed. However while medicines may cure the bacteria, they cannot reverse the damage.

Being tested regularly and treated for syphilis is a really big deal. Here’s why:

  • You can pass along this disease to your newborn. It can effect your pregnancy and cause stillbirth. If the pregnancy is successful, the child may still have health complications once they’re born.
  • Having syphilis increases your risk of contracting HIV – like a 2-to-5 fold increased risk.
  • Left untreated, it can damage your internal organs to the point you have trouble coordinating muscles, experiencing numbness, struggling with dementia and more.
  • You can be re-infected with the disease even after it’s treated. Continual testing is needed.
  • Initial symptoms may seem like they’re “no big deal.” However they are a VERY big deal.

Preventing Syphilis

Any STD is preventable by abstaining from sexual intercourse or only sleeping with one person who you KNOW does not have an STD. Syphilis is only transmitted through sexual contact – you cannot get it through shared bathrooms or touching the same objects. Anal, oral, or genital contact is the culprit for transmission of this powerful and harmful STD. Condom use may help prevent spreading, however is not advised. If you have any signs or suspicious that you or your partner have syphilis, it’s best to abstain from any sexual contact, get tested for syphilis, and if positive, get treated.

Worried that you have syphilis?

Find a walk-in STD testing center today.

Find more information on Syphilis from the CDC.



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