Syphilis: Know Your Risk and How to Stay Safe

This page has been automatically translated from English. MSDH has not reviewed this translation and is not responsible for any inaccuracies.

Mississippi is seeing increasing rates of syphilis, a sexually-transmitted disease that's dangerous to your health and the health of newborns. The right steps can prevent syphilis or treat it before it causes severe health problems or permanent damage.

Who is at risk

Anyone can get syphilis if they are sexually active, and the symptoms can be hard to spot. Syphilis can be transmitted through oral, anal or vaginal sex. It can also spread from direct contact with syphilis sores.

Pregnant women have special risks. If you are infected during pregnancy, your baby can die or have serious birth defects, or be born infected with syphilis. Syphilis can also increase your risk of HIV infection. Getting tested and treated is crucial for the health of your baby and for you.

Early detection makes all the difference

  • When it's detected early, syphilis is easy to treat and cure.
  • Untreated syphilis can invade major organs of the body and cause blindness, paralysis, heart disease or death.
  • Testing is essential to detect syphilis infection and get quick, proper care before your health is permanently damaged.

Request a free syphilis or HIV test

  • Call 800-456-2323
  • Press 1 to request your free syphilis or HIV test.
  • Schedule a time and location convenient for you.

You can also get free testing at any county health department. Call 855-767-0170 to schedule an appointment.

Protect yourself and others

Don't wait for syphilis to find you. You can avoid getting syphilis or giving it to others by being safe during sex:

Always use a condom during sex, and make sure it's used the right way. However, a condom protects only the area it covers. Areas the condom doesn’t cover can become infected.

Don't have sex with someone unless you know they're not infected, and are not having sex with other people.

Talk with your partners about their sexual history and health, and tell them about yours.

If you notice symptoms of syphilis or think you have been exposed, get medical attention at once.

Get tested for syphilis at least once a year, even if you don't think you're infected.

Symptoms of syphilis

Early Stage: You may have one or more red painless sores on the genitals or in the mouth, anus or rectum. The sores last 3 to 6 weeks and heal on their own. However, without treatment, syphilis will progress to the next stage.

Secondary Stage: A rash and wart-like sores can appear on the body. Flu-like symptoms (fever, sore throat, muscle aches and fatigue) can appear over a long period of time. Eventually these symptoms disappear, but you are not safe.

Latent Stage: In this stage, there are no symptoms, but the infection continues, often for years before symptoms return. Syphilis at this stage can still be detected through a blood test.

Advanced Stage: Symptoms may include difficulty moving your arms and legs, paralysis, numbness, blindness and heart disease, ultimately leading to death.

Last reviewed on Jun 11, 2024 request edits
Mississippi State Department of Health 570 East Woodrow Wilson Dr Jackson, MS 39216 866‑HLTHY4U Contact and information

Facebook Twitter Instagram RSS

Accredited by the national Public Health Accreditation Board