What do these folk have in common: King Henry VIII, Adolf Hitler, Al Capone, Oscar Wilde, Vincent van Gogh, John Keats, and Napoleon?
Well, for a start they were all famous, whether they lorded it over lesser mortals, had a creative flair, or enjoyed killing. But that is not why I have listed them. After all, this column is meant to be about sexual health not about naming names — even though I have.
All of these men were famous and all of them contracted the same sexually transmitted infection (STI), which in many cases led to a slow and painful death.
And that STI? Syphilis!
The number of folk in our community contracting syphilis is on the rise but no one is apportioning blame for this increase.
Syphilis is a bacterial infection and it infects the cock, arse and throat. Once you are infected, it spreads throughout the body, through the bloodstream. To protect against this STI, you need to use latex or non-latex condoms, gloves and dams.
Like many STIs, some people will get a noticeable symptom or two but many won’t, making regular sexual health testing a great way to protect yourself and your partner/s.
Once infected, syphilis often produces a painless sore on your cock, in your arse or in your mouth: this can happen anytime between 10 – 90 days after infection. The sore usually turns into a scab and heals after two – six weeks.
The infection, however, stays inside you. Only the latex or non-latex products listed above offer real protection.
I guess if you are into kink, a full latex bodysuit may protect you almost entirely, but I think the cost factor means most will rely on condoms, etc.
After seven – 10 weeks, many people will experience a rash on their body, including the hands and feet. At this stage, symptoms like fever, swollen glands, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, tiredness and patchy hair loss may occur. After a few months, these symptoms usually disappear.
Left in the body untreated, syphilis is still there! It isn’t infectious for sexual partners after about two years. However, during the non-infectious stage, it can start to damage your body’s internal organs. This can include important bits like your brain, nerves, blood vessels, eyes, nerves, heart, liver, and bones. Some of this may take years to show up but after 10 – 25 years can lead to death.
Your doctor may take a swab but will usually take a blood test. The great news is that, like most STIs, treatment is available.
By TEX MCKENZIE