Syphilis is a bacterial infection which can lead to serious illnesses.

How you get it

Through unprotected (condomless) vaginal or anal penetrative sex, or oral sex.


A sore to start with, and later a rash and flu-like symptoms.


The only way to know for sure if you have syphilis is to get tested, which involves a small blood sample. 


You can get tested at your local sexual health clinic or GP.


Can be cured with antibiotics. If let untreated, it can lead to damage of the heart, joint or nervous system (brain, spinal cord, nerves​).


The best way to prevent you becoming infected with syphilis is to use a condom when having sex.


Reduce the risk of a condom bursting by:

  • making sure it's properly unrolled

  • squeezing the air out of the 'teat' before putting it on

  • keeping your fingernails short and smooth

  • using lube suitable for use with condoms

  • never using oils, oil-based lubricants, or oily foodstuffs during sex


The risks from oral sex can be reduced if you:

  • always use a fresh condom

  • avoid oral sex if there are any signs of infection

  • avoid oral sex if the person giving it has any cuts or sores in their mouth

© 2019 Know Your Risk: Testing Week Scotland