Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. It has often been called “the great imitator” because so many of the signs and symptoms are indistinguishable from those of other diseases.
Syphilis infections decreased 8% in 2017 (N=95) from 2016 (N=103). Historically, syphilis was found among the men having sex with men (MSM) population until 2016 when the heterosexual population in West Virginia exceeded MSM in the number of total infections. For 2017, there were two cases of congenital syphilis; one stillbirth and one baby that was successfully treated after birth. The CDC now recommends syphilis testing early in the third trimester among high risk pregnant females to allow time for adequate treatment before birth. Syphilis can be cured with proper treatment, but left untreated may cause various neurological manifestations including vision loss (ocular syphilis), difficulty coordinating muscle movements, or paralysis.
For more information, call the West Virginia HIV/AIDS & STD Hotline:
Trained professionals are available to speak with you weekdays (except holidays) from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. We can answer your questions about HIV/AIDS and other STDs in West Virginia, how to protect yourself, how to be tested, and how to get treatment.