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¤ The number of syphilis cases have increased dramatically in the past years, with more than 130,000 cases reported in 1990 alone.

Syphilis can be transmitted through penetrative sex and through intimate skin contact such as dry humping, kissing, petting and foreplay. Because the first symptoms of syphilis are mild and disappear spontaneously, they may go undetected.

The first symptom is a chancre, a painless open sore on the penis or the vaginal area and takes on average three weeks to develop. In men, the chancre can show up anywhere on the penis, inside the urine hole, or on the scrotum. In women chancres can be found outside or inside the vagina, on the cervix and inside the urethra (where urine comes out). On both men and women, chancres can be found on the lips, tongue, and anywhere inside the mouth. It can also be found on the eyelids, face, chest, fingers, breasts and anus. People often do not detect the first stage, and within six months will develop further symptoms. You get more sores all over your body, like measles, you feel sick like you have the flu; you have a fever, a skin rash everywhere, swollen glands, spots on the tongue and warty bumps on the genitals. This can last for a year, then the canchres disappear again until the last stage, but you can still transmit the disease to others until the last stage of the disease.

(For pictures of symptoms of syphilis see:

The last stage of the syphilis disease causes malformations by eating away at skin and bones all over the body. It can cause blindness, heart disease and serious damage to the central nervous system.

Because women can pass it on to their babies at birth, children are at high risk for malformations early on. The syphilis can be treated, but the malformations stay for life. This is one of the many reasons why it is extremely important to get prenatal care while pregnant. Contact your healthcare provider as soon as you think that you may have contracted syphilis or any other STD, because the sooner it is treated the better the chances for recovery. Syphilis is easily curable with antibiotics if nipped in the bud at an early stage. Also have your partners checked out and abstain from sexual activity until you get better. Otherwise you and your partner could pass the disease back and forth to each other.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Genital Herpes
Genital Warts
Techniques for Prevention and Control