Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It is quite easy to catch and can cause very serious health problems if it isn’t treated. Syphilis has become increasingly common in NZ over the past few years, and rates are continuing to rise.

Syphilis is usually caught by having sex or sexual contact with another person with Syphilis. This includes oral, vaginal or anal sex, or just close skin-to-skin contact. Syphilis can also be passed from mother to baby during pregnancy, which can cause miscarriage, still-birth, or a serious infection in the baby.

Around half of people with Syphilis don’t notice any symptoms, however these people can still go on to have serious health problems if they are not treated. If people do have symptoms, these may include sores in the genital area or mouth, or a rash.

Testing for Syphilis is easy, and just requires a blood test. It can take up to 3 months after infection for the blood test to become positive, so if you have been a contact of Syphilis within this time, you should still get treatment, even if the test is negative.

Syphilis treatment usually consists of penicillin injections. Anyone you have had sex with in the past 3 months should also get tested and treated. You will require follow up blood tests, which can be arranged through your doctor. Using a condom every time you have sex means you are less likely to get Syphilis.

For more information about STIs, including Syphilis, visit