Is there a cure for syphilis?

Yes. Proper treatment will cure syphilis. It’s usually treated with a single shot of a high powered antibiotic. With early treatment, the symptoms will usually go away. Delayed treatment can result in serious health conditions like heart failure, dementia, deafness, blindness, and even death. See a health care provider for an exam and tests to figure out the best treatment for you. After treatment, get a follow-up exam to make sure the treatment has worked.

If you have syphilis, tell each of your sex partners so they can get treated also. Do not have sex with a partner who has syphilis until he or she completes treatment.

You can get infected with syphilis again after you’ve been cured. It’s important for your partners to get treated so they won’t re-infect you.

How can I protect myself from getting syphilis?

The only sure way to avoid syphilis and other STDs is to not have sex (abstinence). If you do have sex:

  • Have sex with one partner (monogamy) who is not infected and has sex only with you.
  • Be aware of symptoms for syphilis and other STIs.
  • Talk with your partner(s) about syphilis and other STDs. Work out a plan to reduce risk that feels comfortable for you both.
  • Have sex with fewer people. More partners = more risk.
  • Use condoms the right way every time you have sex. Condoms must cover the actual sores to prevent transmission. A condom can protect the penis, anus and vagina. But a condom may not keep you from touching sores on other body parts such as your partner’s balls, scrotum or inside his mouth.
  • Don't have sex if you see an unusual sore or rash on your or your partner's body.
  • Get tested for syphilis if you experience any vision problems.
  • Get tested for STIs – including syphilis and HIV – at least once a year. Get tested every 3 months if any of the following are true for you in the last year:
    • had 10 or more sex partners
    • had unprotected anal sex with a partner whose HIV status is positive or not known
    • used poppers
    • used meth
    • had gonorrhea, chlamydia, or syphilis 
  • Consider taking PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) for HIV, especially if any of the activities above are true for you. PrEP can protect you from HIV, but not from syphilis.

Information worth repeating:

You can get syphilis sores in your mouth or throat. You may not see them. They are not painful. Syphilis can cause vision problems. Don’t ignore changes in your eye sight. SYPHILIS IS EASY TO GET THROUGH ORAL SEX! If you’re having sex, any kind of sex, it’s important to get tested for syphilis and other STDs regularly.

Take the Syphilis in Seattle Quiz