• DSHS HIV/STD Program

    Post Office Box 149347, MC 1873
    Austin, Texas 78714

    Phone: (512) 533-3000

    E-mail the HIV/STD Program

    E-mail data requests to HIV/STD Program - This email can be used to request data and statistics on HIV, TB, and STDs in Texas. It cannot be used to get treatment or infection history for individuals, or to request information on programs and services. Please do not include any personal, identifying health information in your email such as HIV status, Date of Birth, Social Security Number, etc.

    For treatment/testing history, please contact your local Health Department.

    For information on HIV testing and services available to Persons Living with HIV and AIDS, please contact your local HIV services organization.



What is Syphilis?

Syphilis is a very serious STD (sexually transmitted disease). It is caused by a germ you can get from any sexual contact with the penis, vagina, mouth, or anus of a person who has the disease. A pregnant woman can pass it to her unborn child.

Many people do not know they have Syphilis.

Many people with syphilis look and feel healthy. But you can still pass the disease to others even if you don’t have symptoms. Too many people don’t realize they have it until they have severe health problems.

Syphilis can be deadly!

Syphilis can be very harmful for both women and men if it isn't treated early.

facesWhat are the symptoms of Syphilis?

Syphilis often begins as a sore, called a chancre (“shank-er”), where the germ has entered the body. This sore mostly occurs on or near the sex organs, but it can also occur around the mouth or anus. The sore does not hurt and it goes away without treatment after a few weeks, but you still have the disease.

Later, there may be other symptoms, such as:

  • Rashes on the palms of the hands and bottoms of the feet
  • Hair loss
  • Headaches, fever and sore throat
  • Aches in the bones
  • Swollen joints

These symptoms will also go away without treatment, but you still have the disease. If left untreated over a period of years, the disease can cause:

  • Arthritis
  • Blindness
  • Heart disease
  • Mental illness
  • Death

How do you know if you have Syphilis?

The only way to be sure is to get tested at your doctor's office or an STD clinic. A simple blood test can tell if you have the disease.

What about Syphilis and pregnancy?

Syphilis can be so dangerous for a baby that Texas requires doctors to test pregnant women at their first prenatal visit and during their third trimester. A pregnant woman who doesn’t get treatment, may have a stillbirth (baby born dead) or have a baby born with severe physical and mental health problems.

What about Syphilis and HIV?

A person with syphilis is at higher risk for HIV. The sore can provide an entry point for HIV and other STDs. When you get tested for syphilis, you should also get tested for HIV and other STDs.

Syphilis can be cured!

Syphilis can be cured with medicine given by a doctor. Since you can have more than one STD at a time, you may have to take more than one drug at a time.

If you have syphilis or any other STD:

  • Take all the pills your doctor prescribes
  • Follow your doctor's advice
  • Call your doctor’s office right away if the medicine gives you problems
  • Tell your sex partner(s) to get tested or have your local STD clinic tell them
  • Don’t have sex again until a doctor says
    you and your partner(s) are cured
  • Don't try to treat yourself
  • Don't share your pills

Get tested for syphilis if:

  • You or your sex partner(s) have symptoms
  • You have had more than one sex partner, male or female (the more partners you have, the greater your risk)
  • Your partner tells you that he or she has been tested or treated for an STD
  • You have any another STDs
  • You have had sex without a condom

How can you stay healthy?

  • The only sure way to avoid syphilis and other STDs is to not have sex. Vaginal, oral, and anal sex can all pass the disease.
  • If you choose to have sex, use a latex condom every time. When used the right way, condoms greatly reduce the chance you will get syphilis or other STDs. Be sure to put the condom on before the penis touches the vagina, mouth or anus. Keep in mind that condoms may not protect you if an STD occurs on a part of the body not covered by the condom.
  • If you choose to have sex, stay with one partner who only has sex with you. Use condoms unless tests show you and your partner do not have any STDs.
Syphilis Resources

Syphilis Resources

Where to get tested for Syphilis

Syphilis information [CDC]

2015 STD Treatment Guidelines [CDC]
Includes treatment recommendations for Syphilis.

Texas STD Surveillance Report (PDF : 1,441 kB)
This report includes Syphilis infection rates and demographic data for Texas.

6-136 cover
What you should know about Syphilis
(PDF : 1,392 kB)
(DSHS Brochure 6-136)
6-136a cover
Lo que usted debe saber sobre la Sifilis
(PDF : 1,286 kB)
(DSHS Brochure 6-136a)
E13-11914 front page
What you should know about Syphilis
(PDF : 48 kB)
(DSHS Fact Sheet E13-11914)
E13-11914a front page
Lo que usted debe saber sobre la Sifilis
(PDF : 49 kB)
(DSHS Fact Sheet E13-11914a)
10 Questions About Pregnancy and HIV
(PDF : 1,054 kB)
(DSHS Fact Sheet 4-206)
10 Preguntas Sobre el Embarazo y el VIH 
(PDF : 1,096 kB)
(DSHS Fact Sheet 4-206a)
Congenital Syphilis in Texas
(PDF : 126 kB)
(DSHS Fact Sheet 13-13583)

HIV, Syphilis and HBV Testing and Pregnancy:
State Requirements for Texas Clinicians
(PDF : 125 kB)
(DSHS Fact Sheet E13-13263)

Syphilis front page  
Interpretation of Serologic Tests for Syphilis
(PDF : 69 kB)

Syphilis Materials

Last updated October 13, 2017