Syphilis testing

Sample type needed

Blood or swab (for visible symptoms)

Incubation period

From 9 days onwards, or anytime if symptomatic

Who is this test suitable for?

Men and women with symptoms or concerns

Results time 

Within 3 days of receipt in the lab

Treatment

Curable with antibiotics

Where can I get tested?

All Better2Know centres

What is Syphilis?

Syphilis is a bacteria that can cause potentially life-threatening conditions. It is usually transmitted through sexual activity, by direct contact with an infected Syphilis sore.

Syphilis sores occur mainly on the external genitals, vagina, anus, or in the rectum. Sores can also be found in the mouth and on the lips. You can also catch Syphilis through drug use when sharing needles, and pregnant women can pass it to their unborn baby. The bacteria can cause many harmful effects to both men and women if it is left undetected. Serious damage to internal organs and to the central nervous system will occur if a Syphilis infection is left untreated.  In addition, pregnant women can suffer miscarriage or stillbirth.

A Syphilis infection will not go away on its own but fortunately, when detected early, it can be easily cured with appropriate antibiotics. It is important to get tested regularly so that you can protect your health and that of your partners.

What are the symptoms of Syphilis?

Syphilis symptoms can be difficult to recognise and can take years to develop meaning that it can be transmitted unknowingly. The symptoms develop in three stages.

Primary stage:

  • The appearance of a sore or a "chancre" mainly in the genital area but also occurring in and around the mouth and lips.

Secondary stage.  Symptoms may include:

  • Rashes
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Weight loss
  • Hair loss.

Latent stage (also known as the hidden phase):

  • You may not experience symptoms even though you are infected.
  • Effects of a Latent stage infection may include damage to your internal organs including the brain, heart, liver, nerves, eyes and blood vessels.
Did you know? …

Syphilis is easily curable but if left untreated can cause life-threatening conditions including brain, heart, sight problems often leading to death.

Click here to see the full article.

What happens if I do not have treatment?

Men and women

Because the immune system is weaker with HIV, an untreated case of Syphilis can be fatal.

Men and women with Syphilis are more likely to contract HIV because the genital sores caused by Syphilis can bleed, increasing the chance for HIV to enter the bloodstream during sexual activity.  It is important to get tested regularly and to get any infection treated. 

Pregnant women

There are many risks for pregnant women who have Syphilis. These risks include, miscarriages, premature births, stillbirths, or death of newborn babies. There is also risk of deformities, delays in development, or seizures along with many other problems such as rash, fever, swollen liver and spleen, anaemia, and jaundice. If Syphilis remains undiagnosed in infants, it can cause severe damage to their bones, teeth, eyes, ears, and brain.

How do I get tested for Syphilis?

You can have a Syphilis blood test at Better2Know on its own or as part of a health screen. If you are worried about other STDs, you can choose from our Platinum Screen, our Full Screen or our Peace of Mind Screen.  A blood sample and a urine sample is needed for these screening options.

The Better2Know Blemish Screen is available for patients who have visible symptoms, and a swab sample can be taken instead of a blood sample.