Know Test Prevent


Did you know that Syphilis is on the increase? The number of people in the UK diagnosed with Syphilis has more than doubled since 2012 and continues to rise. We think of Syphilis as something that was common in the 1970s and has gone away.  But Syphilis is back – and it's back in a big way!!!

As part of our Know, Test, and Prevent campaign we want you to KNOW how Syphilis is transmitted, TEST as part of a full sexual health screen and understand the steps you can take to PREVENT acquiring the infection and passing it on to your sexual partners.


Syphilis is a bacterial infection that's usually caught by having oral and penetrative sex with someone who already has it. It's important to get tested and treated as soon as possible. If Syphilis is left untreated it can cause further health problems. You can also catch Syphilis more than once, even if you've been treated for it before.

Symptoms vary and, as with all sexual infections, some people may not have any obvious symptoms at all. Even if symptoms disappear over time, the infection will remain active until it is treated.

Symptoms can include small sores or ulcers that usually appear on the penis or around the anus, an obvious red rash on your feet or palms of your hands or small skin growths around the anus. Some people also report flu like symptoms (fever, tiredness, headache, swollen glands, joint pain) and white patches in the mouth. But as already stated, many people don't experience any obvious symptoms at all. 

Syphilis is mainly spread through close contact with an infected sore, which usually happens during penetrative or oral sex. The infection can also be passed through sharing sex toys with someone has Syphilis. Your sexual partner may not even know they have Syphilis. Anyone who's sexually active is potentially at risk of acquiring Syphilis. You can also acquire Syphilis if you share needles with others.

Syphilis can't be spread by using the same toilet, clothing, cutlery, or bathroom as someone who already has it.

Syphilis can be easily treated which is usually done through your sexual health clinic.


Testing for Syphilis is free and easy in the UK, but many people with Syphilis don't know they have it. Treating Syphilis means that it can't be passed on to sexual partners.

If you are based in the Plymouth area you can order a home test kit as part of the "Long Time No Syphilis"campaign now at:


If you are based outside of Plymouth you can access a Syphilis test via your local sexual health clinic. For further information on these click here. (sexual health clinic). You can also speak with our staff to find out how to access testing.


The best way to prevent acquiring Syphilis is to use condoms for oral and penetrative sex. We understand many people don't like to use condoms for oral sex. You can use dams for this or if you have several sexual partners you should get in the habit of testing regularly (every 3-6 months).


If you are using sex toys it is advisable not to share these. You can use a condom on toys, which should be changed every time you pass the toy between you.

You should always use a clean needle every time you inject and not share these with others, you should also use clean water each time you inject.

If you want to are worried about Syphilis or want to know more then feel free to call us on 0800 328 3508 or email us on