What is Syphilis

Syphilis is a bacterial, sexually transmitted infection that progresses in stages.

Contracting Syphilis

Syphilis is passed from person to person through direct contact with a syphilis sore or lesion.

Syphilis Diagnosis

A health care provider can diagnose syphilis microscopically or through a blood test.

My Prenatal Promise
“Expectant Mom” PSA

What is Syphilis?

Syphilis is a bacterial, sexually transmitted infection (STI) that progresses in stages. The disease is curable and progression of the disease is preventable, but if left untreated it can cause cardiovascular and neurological diseases and blindness. Syphilis causes genital ulcers, which increase the likelihood of sexual HIV transmission two- to five-fold.

Untreated, syphilis can be transmitted from a pregnant woman to her fetus.

How is Syphilis Spread?

Syphilis is passed from person to person through direct contact with a syphilis sore or lesion. These occur mainly on the external genitals, vagina, anus, or in the rectum. Sores also can occur on the lips and in the mouth. Transmission of the organism occurs during vaginal, anal or oral sex. Pregnant women with the disease can pass it to the babies they are carrying. Syphilis cannot be spread by toilet seats, door knobs, swimming pools, hot tubs, bath tubs, shared clothing, or eating utensils.

How is Syphilis Diagnosed?

A health care provider can diagnose syphilis by using dark-field microscopy to examine material from syphilis sores. If syphilis bacteria are present in the sore, they will show up with a characteristic appearance.

A blood test is another way to determine whether someone has syphilis. Shortly after infection occurs, the body produces syphilis antibodies that can be detected by an accurate and inexpensive blood test. A low level of antibodies will stay in the blood for months or years, even after the disease has been successfully treated. Because untreated syphilis in a pregnant woman can infect and possibly kill her developing baby, every pregnant woman should have a blood test for syphilis.

Doctors are required to test expectant moms:

  • During their first prenatal visit
  • Third trimester
  • At delivery
Promise Promise
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According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of female syphilis cases nationally rose 32% between 2017 and 2018

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Percent of number of congenital syphilis cases among pregnant moms in Houston/Harris County more than doubled, 47 cases to 104 cases, from 2017-2018 respectively

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Percent of women ages 18-34 accounted for all syphilis cases in Houston/Harris County from 2017 to 2018

My Prenatal Pledge

"I pledge to be the best mother I can be for the most optimal health of my unborn baby!!!"

C. Parham, An Expectant Mother, 35-44, Houston

My Prenatal Pledge

"I already got my first trimester testing for STIs, and I am grateful to be healthy. I take my health + my growing baby's health very seriously."

L Leonhardt, An Expectant Mother, 25-34, Harris County

My Prenatal Pledge

"To get tested and to stay clean."

N. Crawford, An Expectant Mother, 35-44, Houston

My Prenatal Pledge

"I PLEDGE To: Get tested three times for syphilis, HIV and other STIs, and to also share My Prenatal Pledge with my family, friends and on social media with other expectant mothers and all Houstonians."

Danielle Jackson, An Expectant Mother, 25-34, Harris County

My Prenatal Pledge

"To stay healthy and sti free during my pregnancy."

T Wright, An Expectant Mother, 25-34, Harris County