Is Syphilis Curable?

Syphilis is said to have killed Napoleon Bonaparte.
Syphilis, if caught in an early stage, is curable with antibiotics.
A portrait of Christopher Columbus, who allegedly died of syphilis.
Article Details
  • Written By: Jacob Queen
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 09 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Various antibiotic medications have helped to make syphilis curable. The main drug used to treat syphilis is penicillin, but for people that have a penicillin allergy, other antibiotic drugs can be used. No matter how late in the process the drugs are taken, they can make syphilis curable in virtually every case. It is also true that the disease will often go away on its own eventually, but waiting for that to happen can be dangerous because the disease gradually worsens.

In the past, before scientists made syphilis curable, it was often a fatal disorder. There was a time when it was generally considered the most dangerous sexually transmitted disease (STD). Historical syphilis epidemics happened all over the world, and the disease killed people from all walks of life. Some of the famous historical figures who allegedly died of syphilis include George Washington, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Christopher Columbus.

Even though scientists have now made syphilis curable, it still has the potential to be deadly. If people wait too long to get treatment, fatal complications can occur. Syphilis also has an indirect connection to the potentially fatal autoimmune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). People who have syphilis can easily transmit AIDS because of the bleeding sores that can appear on the genitals. This is generally made worse because the behavior patterns that increase someone’s risk of AIDS can also be risk factors for syphilis.

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In terms of symptoms, syphilis progresses in phases. In the beginning, a person may only have a small bump, usually on their sexual organs or mouth. Eventually, this can progress to a stage where they might experience a rash, weight loss, and many other symptoms. The later stages of syphilis can involve nervous system and organ destruction, eventually leading to possibly fatal consequences. Between these stages, there can be long periods of dormancy, and the disease can take years to progress to its most deadly potential.

The bacteria that leads to syphilis can’t survive for very long in the open air, so sexual transmission is often the only way it can be spread. During different stages of the disease, sores appear on the sexual organs that tend to have a large amount of the bacteria on them. For that reason, syphilis can often be prevented through abstinence or the use of condoms during sex. Women who are pregnant can also pass syphilis on to their unborn children, and sometimes this can lead to very severe problems in the child when it is born.

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Discuss this Article

ZipLine
Post 4

@SarahGen-- No, that's not the case because herpes simplex type 2 is caused by a virus and syphilis is caused by a bacteria. Once you get herpes, you do carry the virus for the rest of your life (even though it's not active most of the time). But when syphilis is treated with antibiotics, it's gone for good.

SarahGen
Post 3

I thought that once you have syphilis disease, you always have it, like herpes.

turquoise
Post 2

Syphilis is not a very big deal anymore, because it's curable. The article is right that it was a very deadly disease in history though.

I read that during the Victorian era, many of the sex workers were suffering from syphilis. But in order to make sure that their customers didn't run away after seeing their syphilis rash and sores, they invented and started wearing pubic wigs.

Thankfully, penicillin was found. If syphilis hadn't been cured, it would have continued to take many lives.

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