Healthy Sex is Zero Feet Away: Facts about Syphilis

As part of Zero Feet Away, we’re sharing facts about common Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) in shame-free, sex-positive, everyday language. We know everyone’s body and sex life is unique, but we can all stay healthy with the right tools and information.

Syphilis. While it may seem rare, it’s still a common (and curable) STI. You can contract it through condomless (or dental dam-less) oral, anal, and/or vaginal sex. If you’re having unprotected sex, you could be at risk for syphilis.

It often shows up as a painless, blister-like sore found on the penis, the exterior of the vagina or anus, or even on the lips or in the mouth. Additionally, there may be small circular rashes that do not itch, or cause any discomfort and can be found on the palms of the hands, bottoms of the feet, and/or the trunk or stomach area. Because you can have symptoms inside that aren’t always easy to see, it’s best to be screened at least once per year if you are sexually active.

If you read the above symptoms and they sound familiar, there’s no reason to be afraid or delay getting screening and/or treatment. STIs can happen to anyone, and if you end up having one, you’re definitely not the first! Screening and treatment are within your reach. Make an appointment at Howard Brown Health or drop by one of our three sexual health walk-in clinics in Chicago. We do everything we can to make STI screenings easy and affordable for everyone.

To screen for syphilis, all you need is a blood test. Treatment is based upon the stage of syphilis, but the gold standard treatment is 2.4mu of Bicillin, which is administered through injection. For patients who have an extreme penicillin allergy, alternative treatment is available.

At Howard Brown Health, we believe that everyone can lead a fulfilling and healthy sexual life. With accessible sexual health screening and easy-to-read information, we put sexual health right in your hands. Your sexual health is Zero Feet Away.

You can get quick HIV/STI screening and treatment at our sexual health walk-in clinics. It’s a quick and low-cost service. No appointment necessary. Learn more at


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