The retro STI with a deadly kick
Google pretty much any historical figure with a reputation for eccentricity (try, for example, Hitler, Lenin, Napoleon, or Henry VIII) and you’ll find someone, somewhere, arguing that their mad quirks can be attributed to syphilis. Though syphilis tends not to make the headlines these days, it’s still alive and kicking.
Syphilis is an STI so can be passed through vaginal, anal, and oral sex. You’re also at risk when sharing needles or sex toys. At certain stages in the disease, syphilis can be passed through kissing .
In the first couple of weeks after infection, a person breaks out in painless but extremely infectious sores around their mouth or genitals. Then, they’ll come out in a skin rash and maybe a sore throat. Syphilis can lie dormant for years. If untreated, after many years, the disease can enter into its final stages where it can cause stroke, paralysis, blindness, or death. If infected with syphilis, you’re far more likely to catch HIV and vice versa.
The good thing about syphilis (if we can talk about such a nasty disease’s good points…) is that it can be treated pretty easily with antibiotics—if it’s diagnosed early on. While the disease is relatively rare today in the developed world, it’s been on the rise in recent years. This rise has been put down to higher rates of unsafe sex, particularly among men who have sex with men. Using condoms or a dental dam during sex reduces your risk of catching the disease. To reduce the risk of infection, ensure that you and your partner get a sexual check-up before getting it on.
Check out our blog for more STI info.