We are glad that you posted this question and we are happy to answer it. Unfortunately, what you have heard is true. Syphilis, is mostly transmitted through condomless vaginal, anal or oral sex, mother-to-child during pregnancy and also skin-to-skin when one comes in contact with a syphilis sore/lesion. Less commonly, it can be transmitted through sharing used drug equipment. Syphilis cannot be spread by toilets, swimming pools, bath tubs, or eating utensils.
Many people do not show symptoms for syphilis while some develop visible signs of it. If untreated, syphilis can lead to several harmful outcomes including cardiovascular and neurological complications.
Syphilis is detected with a simple blood test. If it is caught early, syphilis can be effectively treated with antibiotics. Sexual or drug use partner(s) of people with syphilis also need to be treated since they may have been unknowingly exposed. It is recommended to follow up with a health care provider to make sure if the treatment is working.
Syphilis can be prevented by correct and consistent use of condoms (internal and/or external), however, if the syphilis sore is outside the area covered by the condom, transmission could still occur so, it’s important to be cautious. People who use drugs should ensure that they use new equipment and not to share them. There are many places in Manitoba that give away safe drug use supplies. Use the Street Connections website to access one nearest to you.
If you think you may have been exposed to syphilis the only way to know is to get tested.