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Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by bacteria. Syphilis infects the genital area, lips, mouth, or anus of both men and women. Syphilis is acquired through sexual contact with someone who has the disease. Syphilis can also pass from mother to baby during pregnancy.

The early stage of syphilis usually produces a single, small, painless sore. Sometimes the swelling occurs in the nearby lymph nodes. If not treated, syphilis usually causes a non-itchy skin rash, often on the hands and feet. Often times, symptoms are not noticed for years, as the symptoms can go away and return.

The sores caused by syphilis make it easier to get or give someone HIV during sex. If you are pregnant, syphilis can cause birth defects, or miscarriage. In rare cases, syphilis causes serious health problems and even death.

Syphilis is easy to cure with antibiotics if diagnosed and treated in the early stages. Correct usage of latex condoms greatly reduces, but does not completely eliminate, the risk of catching or spreading syphilis.

NIH: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

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