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Telling your partners about Syphilis

Below you’ll find answers to some of the questions people ask about Syphilis and contacting their partners.

For more information on Syphilis (Fact Sheets) click here.

Please click on the question listed below for further information.

 
° HOW common is Syphilis?
Syphilis is becoming increasingly common in our community, particularly in young, sexually active people who don’t always use condoms. You can catch syphilis through oral, vaginal or anal sex with a person who has syphilis.
   
 
° WHY do I need to contact my sexual partners?

Syphilis is passed from one person to another by sexual contact. If you have Syphilis, then it is very likely that one or more of your sexual partners also have this infection. Telling your sexual partners is important because it:

  • could be the only way most people will know they have this infection
  • stops you getting the infection back again
  • shows your partner that you care about them
  • reduces the chance of your partner developing serious health problems in the future
  • stops your partner passing the infection to others
Remember, men and women with Syphilis may not have any symptoms and so they don’t know they have the infection.                 

 


   
 
° WHICH partners do I need to contact?


We suggest you contact anyone you’ve had unprotected sex with in the last 6 months or, if you haven’t had sex with anyone during that time, your most recent sexual partner. However please discuss this question with your doctor as this will depend on what stage of syphilis you have.


   
 
° WHAT do I need to tell them?

You need to tell your partners that they:

  • may be at risk of having Syphilis
  • need to get tested and probably treated for this infection by a doctor.
  • need to contact their other partners (if they have Syphilis)
   
 
° HOW do I go about telling them?


Most people prefer their partners to talk to them face-to-face or over the phone about this issue.

However, if this is not possible, or you don’t feel comfortable doing this, then think of using other methods such as email, SMS or a letter in the post.

Remember, you don’t have to explain everything to your partners. Just give your partners our Fact Sheet or tell then to:


   
 
° WHEN do I tell them?

 

It’s important to tell your partners as soon as possible. The sooner they get tested and treated the better. If you put it off, you might never get around to doing it.

   
 
° WHAT if I don’t want my partner(s) to know it’s me who has Syphilis?


While people respond best when they know who is contacting them, we understand that sometimes you may feel awkward, embarrassed or even frightened about doing this. So, if you really don’t want your partner to know who you are, you can:

  • send an anonymous email from this website
  • send an anonymous SMS
  • send or drop in a letter that you don’t sign.
  • ask your doctor if she/he can help you contact your partner(s)

In the end, it doesn’t really matter what method you use to contact your partner. The most important thing is TO LET YOUR PARTNERS KNOW THEY ARE AT RISK.

   
 
° WHAT if my partner’s Syphilis test is negative?

There are several reasons why your partner’s Syphilis test may come back negative: He or she may never have had the infection, as not everyone who comes in contact with Syphilis will develop the infection. Or they may still be in the window period of up to 3 months where they have been exposed to syphilis, but their blood test is still negative.

   
 
 

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