The Rising Tide of Syphilis: Coming To A Patient Near You

Gail Bolan, MD


July 14, 2017

Editorial Collaboration

Medscape &

To Reduce Syphilis Among MSM

Complete a sexual history for your patients. Support a welcoming environment and have honest and open talks with your patients about their sexual history. Order CDC-recommended tests based on age, sex or gender of your patient and their sex partners, anatomic sites of exposure, and risk.

Test. Perform a syphilis test for sexually active MSM, including those with HIV infection, at least annually and as frequently as every 3-6 months if there are multiple sex partners or substance use disorders.

Immediately treat and report syphilis cases. Stage and treat syphilis cases according to CDC's STD Treatment Guidelines. Presumptively treat all MSM with signs or symptoms suggestive of primary or secondary syphilis and all MSM who are sexual contacts of a patient with syphilis at the initial visit. If you have challenges obtaining penicillin G, contact your state or local health department. Report all syphilis cases promptly by stage to your state or local health department.

You play a pivotal role in reversing these trends. We are calling on you and a wide range of groups from the public and private sector to team up against syphilis. At CDC, we pledge to unite and strengthen new and old tools of prevention as part of our continued commitment to safeguard the public's health. None of us can meet this challenge alone, but together we can put syphilis behind us, where it belongs.

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Web Resources

A Guide to Taking a Sexual History

Syphilis fact sheet (for clinicians)

Syphilis Images

2015 Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines (Syphilis)

Clinical Advisory: Ocular Syphilis in the United States

National STD Curriculum. Syphilis Self-Study Module

Call to Action to Combat Syphilis

Understanding the Complexities of Syphilis by Dr. Gail Bolan

Test Your Knowledge with Two Syphilis Cases by Dr. Gail Bolan

Reducing Syphilis Rates: A Healthcare Provider's Role