STDs can come in different forms/types, with an assortment of symptoms and, not to mention, a great deal of anxiety.
Those who are stricken can suffer from a great deal of embarrassment (in addition to the symptoms), with different diseases displaying different symptoms, ranging in severity and extensiveness.
On DxD, several readers posted questions about syphilis which included how to know if the diagnosis is conclusive and if so, what kinds of treatments could be found in Singapore.
Here's a compilation of some answers from reputable doctors with experience in the field.
What is syphilis and how is it transmitted?
Notorious for being one of the most commonly contracted forms of STD, syphilis is generally spread through sexual intercourse (vaginal), anal and oral sex.
They cause sores on your genitals (called chancres) which are usually painless, but they can be spread through infection.
Routine health checkups can identify syphilis
According to Dermatologist, Dr Tan Wei Sheng, syphilis is commonly detected during either routine health checkups or some pre-employment tests.
Results are based on a combination of at least 2 positive blood tests, in order to make sure that the conclusion is precise.
Latent syphilis may present no symptoms
Initially, if someone is diagnosed with latent syphilis (a late stage of the STD) symptoms aren't experienced and this means that if the person does not go for a checkup and receive a diagnosis, the disease may not be detected by him or her for long periods of time.
Either way, the diagnosis process is similar to normal syphilis.
Early stages of syphilis have more visible symptoms
Secondary stage syphilis sores (lesions) on the palms of the hand. Referred to as "palmar lesions"
Since earlier stages of syphilis are more infectious and aggressive, patients may experience the formation of painless ulcers around their genital area followed by general body rash affecting the palms and soles of the feet.
In this case, swabs can be taken to help confirm the diagnosis. Confirmation is reached through 2 different types of blood tests.
Some patients may test positive for syphilis for their entire lives
In some instances, syphilis tests carried out on patients can remain positive for the rest of their lives even after treatment.
This can, of course, make interpretation of the tests difficult and doctors will need a detailed history in order to establish whether the infection is new or whether it is one that has been treated.
Specific penicillin is used to treat syphilis
An effective and relatively common treatment used in Singapore is made up of a special penicillin injection which can be found at the DSC and dermatology clinics or at a sexual health centre.
Early stages only require a single jab, whereas late stages may require 3 jabs (once every week).
Some tests may detect other chronic diseases instead
If patients opt for RPR (Rapid Plasma Reagin), a type of rapid diagnostic test, positive results may indicate other conditions besides syphilis. These include chronic liver disease, pregnancy, lupus or other infections.
However, RPR and TPPA tests used together have better accuracy
RPR, VDRL, Syphilis test
With both the RPR and TPPA (Treponema pallidum particle agglutination assay) tests, if both tests produce positive results, it's most likely that you have syphilis.
Being diagnosed with syphilis can seem pretty devastating but do a proper search and you could find that there are effective treatments that can subdue symptoms and lead you to better management of the disease.
Make sure you seek treatment quickly once syphilis is suspected.
1. David Brown. Diagnosis and management of syphilis. Jul 2003.
2. French, Patrick. “Syphilis” BMJ (Clinical research ed.) vol. 334,7585. Jan 2007.
3. Ficarra, Giuseppe and Roman Carlos. “Syphilis: the renaissance of an old disease with oral implications” Head and neck pathology vol. 3,3. Sep 2009.