STD Awareness Month 2017

Posted: April 11, 2017 at 11:53 am, Last Updated: April 11, 2017 at 11:56 am

April is STI Awareness Month. Syphilis rates in the U.S. are at the highest reported level in 20 years. Rates are up about 20% since 2014 and rates have increased among men, women, a majority of age groups, and almost every race/ethnicity.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can have very serious complications when not treated, but Syphilis can be treated and cured.

Signs and symptoms of Syphilis

  • Single or multiple sores in the primary stage. Sores are usually (but not always) firm, round, and painless. Because the sore is painless, it might be easy to miss. Sores can last 3 – 6 weeks.
  • During the secondary stage, symptoms can include skin rashes and/or sores in your mouth, vagina, or anus. This stage usually starts with a rash on one or more areas of your body.The rash usually is not itchy can be very faint in appearance. Other symptoms can include fever, swollen lymph glands, sore throat, patchy hair loss, headaches, weight loss, muscle aches, and fatigue (feeling very tired).
  • In the latent stage, there are no symptoms of syphilis infection. In the tertiary stage of Syphilis, it infects many different organ systems, including the heart and blood vessels, and the brain and nervous system.

Take charge of your health! Get regular STI testing if you are sexually active. Talk to your healthcare provider about what STI testing is right for you. Student Health Services offers STI testing and treatment. Call to schedule an appointment. During April 2017, students can get a coupon for $5 off STI testing or an HIV/Syphilis test to use at SHS.

While anyone who is sexually active can get Syphilis, gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) remain hardest-hit.

Syphilis has also increased among women, pregnant women & newborns. If you are pregnant, you should be tested for syphilis the first time you see your doctor for healthcare during pregnancy. If you do not get tested at your first visit, ask your doctor about testing at a future checkup.

How can I protect myself?

The only way to avoid syphilis and other STIs is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex.

If you are sexually active, you can do the following things to lower your chances of getting syphilis:

  • Use latex condoms or barrier method protection the right way every time you have sex.
  • Talk openly and honestly with your healthcare provider and ask what STI testing is right for you.
  • Be in a long-term, monogamous relationship with a partner who has tested negative for syphilis and other STIs.
  • If you test positive for Syphilis, get treated right away and be sure your sexual partner is treated as well to reduce the risk of re-infection

Additional Resources

Visit the Center for Disease Control’s STI Awareness Month website for more info:

Syphilis information in other languages: