Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sexually Transmitted Thursdays: Syphilis

Here's what I like about STIs: Well, not very much. But they all have excellent names, have you ever noticed that? Maybe that's why I like talking about safe sex so much. It's an excellent excuse to say such beautiful words as "chlamydia", "gonorrhea", "scabies", and, best of all, "syphilis". And by "say", I mean "misspell".

Well, I'm sorry to tell you this, but other than an excellent name, syphilis doesn't have a lot of merits. Oh, except for that one excellent House episode about it. Have you seen that one? It's good, I promise. Anyway, the facts are these:

1: It is a bacterial infection that can be treated pretty easily with antibiotics if treated earlyish.

2: It makes people more vulnerable to HIV.

3: The highest-risk group is men who have sex with other men.

4: Syphilis has a weird 4-step progression, like a sinister dance. First (primary stage) you'll find a round, painless sore at the point of entry (genitals, mouth, rectum, etc) and your lymph nodes will start swelling this will start 10-90 days after infection. Second (secondary stage) is very contagious. You'll start felling pretty bad at this point, and might experience a fever, loss of appetite, lethargy, achy joints, and loss of hair. You might get moist, warty patches around your genitals and mucous patches around the aforementioned points of entry, as well as a rash on your palms and the soles of your feet. At this point, you might get lucky and get over it, but please, please don't take your chances-- even if it looks like it's gone, it could just be experiencing a latent phase, which can last for quite some time. Because you know what happens next? The tertiary phase, which is a real doozy. Your brain, heart, nerves, eyes, joints, blood vessels, bones, and liver may become damaged, and you might experience such symptoms as dementia, gradual blindness, jerky or uncoordinated muscle movements, or numbness. This is no walk in the park, people.

5: Syphilis is especially tricky if you're pregnant. Though your child may be born without any symptoms, there's a pretty good chance that he or she will develop them later on. At first, your child may develop symptoms such as skin sores, rashes, a runny nose, fever, jaundice, anemia, a swollen liver or spleen, and infection of the umbilical chord. If these symptoms go untreated, your child may experience deformities, tooth abnormalities, deafness, developmental delays, seizures, or even death.

6: So we don't want this, right everyone? Get tested, wear a condom, get your partners tested.


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