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Preventing Syphilis

To prevent syphilis, you must avoid contact with infected tissues and bodily fluids of an infected person. Most transmission, however, is from people who have no visible sores or rashes and who do not know they are infected.
There are things you can do to prevent syphilis. For example:
  • Abstain from sex
  • Be faithful
  • Avoid alcohol and drug use
  • Use condoms
  • Understand birth control
  • Talk with your doctors and sex partner(s)
  • Have regular pelvic exams.

Syphilis and Pregnancy

Pregnant women can pass the disease to their babies during pregnancy and childbirth. Untreated syphilis results in a high risk of a bad outcome of pregnancy. Therefore, if you are pregnant, you should be tested for the disease.
(Click Syphilis in Pregnant Women for more information.)

How Common Is the Disease?

Although primary and secondary syphilis in the United States declined by almost 90 percent from 1990 to 2000, the number of cases rose from 5,979 in 2000 to 7,352 in 2004. There was a dramatic increase in cases in men from 2000 to 2002 that reflects syphilis in men who have sex with men.
The incidence of infectious syphilis was highest in women 20 to 24 years of age and in men 35 to 39 years of age. Reported cases of congenital syphilis in newborns decreased from 2001 to 2002, with 492 new cases reported in 2001, compared to 412 cases in 2002.
(Click Syphilis Statistics for more statistics on this condition.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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