What is syphilis?

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by a corkscrew-shaped bacteria called Treponema pallidum.

Is syphilis a threat in Wisconsin?

The number of syphilis cases in Wisconsin has been increasing.

Syphilis prevention is important because of the serious consequences of untreated or inadequately treated syphilis and its role as a potential risk factor for HIV infection and transmission.

Watch this video to learn the facts about syphilis.

Health care professionals should go to the Health Care Professionals webpage for information on reporting STDs and other items.

Am I at risk for syphilis?

If you are having sex, you can get syphilis. You are at greater risk if you are a:

  • Man who has sex with other men
  • Person with any STD especially HIV
  • Person with a sex partner who has an STD especially HIV
  • Person with more than one sex partner
  • Person with a new sex partner
  • Person using social apps to find new sex partners

How can I avoid getting syphilis?

There are many ways to prevent getting syphilis and it’s as easy as ABC.

  • Avoid having sex until you feel prepared to protect yourself.
  • Be monogamous or have sex with just one person who only has sex with you and doesn’t have any STDs. You can find out if both of you have an STD, like syphilis, by getting tested together.
  • Condoms can protect you from getting syphilis but only where they cover. If you are not using them for oral sex, you can still get syphilis.

Fact sheets

Learn more about the causes, risk factors, and treatment of syphilis:

  • Department of Health Services (DHS) fact sheet, P-42095 (in English, Spanish and Hmong).
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) fact sheet.

Testing and treatment

Find locations around the state where you can get tested; not all locations treat for syphilis.

Last Revised: July 13, 2020