*More information regarding syphilis symptoms, serology and treatment can be found in the resources below. If you’re looking for non-health professional information read the Syphilis Fact Sheet.
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection. It is caused by the spirochete bacterium, Treponema pallidum, subspecies pallidum that can cause serious health problems if left untreated. Syphilis is usually passed on during anal, oral or vaginal sex. It is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact with an infected area. There are four stages of syphilis infection: primary, secondary, latent and tertiary. Each of these stages present different symptoms.
Syphilis is highly infectious during the first two years of infection. Pregnant women can transmit syphilis to their babies, which can result in perinatal death, premature delivery, and congenital abnormalities. Since 2016, South Australia has had five cases of infectious syphilis in pregnant people, and one child has been born with congenital syphilis. It’s important to know that syphilis also increases the risk of HIV transmission.
Despite the serious health problems associated with syphilis it can be easy to cure if treated early. Therefore it is essential that medical practitioners understand the importance of testing and treatment of syphilis as well as the partner/s of those with infectious syphilis.
SA Health provide the following advice for health professionals:
Medical practitioners in the outbreak areas and surrounding regions are advised to:
Offer syphilis testing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their partners in the following circumstances:
Testing pregnant people outside of these interval visits should also be considered. Pregnant people at risk of inadequate antenatal care should be screened opportunistically, outside of the set interval where appropriate, whenever they present for care.
Contact SA Pathology on (08) 8222 3000, or Adelaide Sexual Health Centre on (08) 7117 2800 if assistance with interpretation of syphilis serology results is required.
Medical practitioners should:
Locating, testing, and treating partners of infectious cases is essential in controlling syphilis.
The following organisations can provide advice and guidance around syphilis testing and treatment.
220 Franklin Street, Adelaide SA 5000
(Postal address: GPO Box 719 Adelaide SA 5001)
Phone: (08) 8273 7200
1st Floor, 275 North Terrace, Adelaide SA 5000
Phone: (08) 7117 2800
Phone: (08) 8300 5300
Phone: (08) 8954 9040
This campaign is a partnership between Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia and SHINE SA.
Help us share this campaign by downloading our social media tiles to share on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. Use the hashtag #SyphilisIsStillOutThere
Download the files here as a zipped folder: Syphilis Is Still Out There Campaign