Advise on safer sex practices, testing as syphilis numbers rise


STIs. image credit: SOS safety magazine


The Saint Louis County Department of Public Health is emphasizing the importance of sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention and testing as reports of syphilis rise in the county.

“Safer sex practices are vital for preventing the contraction and spread of syphilis and other STIs,” said Dr. Fredrick Echols, Director of Communicable Disease Control Services for Saint Louis County Department of Public Health, “Getting tested is also key to maintaining good health. All sexually active individuals should be regularly tested for STIs.”

Condom picImage/Debora Cartagena

The Saint Louis County Department of Public Health recommends certain measures sexually active individuals can take to protect themselves from syphilis and other STIs:

  • Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested for syphilis and does not have syphilis.
  • Properly using latex condoms every time you have sex. Condoms prevent the transmission of syphilis by preventing contact with a sore. However, sometimes sores occur in areas not covered by a condom. Be mindful that contact with these sores can still transmit syphilis.

While all sexually active individuals can get syphilis and should receive regular testing, men who have sex with men, those living with HIV, and individuals who have a partner that has tested positive for syphilis are especially at risk. Additionally, because of the STI rates globally, pregnant women should be tested for syphilis at their first prenatal visit, and re-screened between 28 and 32 weeks and at delivery. Young people between the ages of 15-24 also have the highest rate of new syphilis infections, and should be take this into account when considering testing.

On average, a syphilis infection sore presents itself around three weeks after having vaginal, oral, or anal sex, but it can take between 10-90 days to appear. Also keep in mind that with many STIs, including syphilis, symptoms may also not appear at all, and it is still important to be tested.

It is advised that all should employ this prevention medium to reduce the prevalence of syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases.







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