Syphilis chancre has been historically known as “The Great Imitator” or “The Pox” in sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Everything else about Syphilis is EASY – it is easy to get hold of yet it is easy to alleviate. In 2007, nearly 40% of the gay and bisexual communities in Minnesotawere found to have syphilis chancre. In 2009, new cases of syphilis increased to 20%. The most commonly reported causes are casual sex, meeting people online and no condom or contraceptive use. The disease makes it easier to contact or even spread HIV. When a person received positive HIV results, he or she needs to also undergo series of tests for syphilis.
Many people, especially gays and bi men who are HIV-positive, have no idea they were also infected with syphilis chancre. Unfortunately, this very rare sex-related infection can be undiagnosed regardless of its severity.
Here are the symptoms commonly associated with this infection:
- Primary Stage (3 – 13 weeks after infection)
- Occasional chancres
- Painless, single chancres
- Chancre appears at the infection’s exact site (usually on the scrotum, near the penis or vagina, butt and inside the mouth, depending on the sexual position)
- Chancre is cured within 1 – 6 weeks
- Secondary Stage (5 weeks – 5 months after infection)
- Patches or Alopecia (sudden loss of hair)
- Condyloma Lata (wart-like, moist or heaped lesions)
- Rashes on the limbs, torso, soles, and/or palms
- Pre-Latent Stage (less than 12 months after infection): Here, the symptoms from primary and secondary stages have already been cured but succeeding symptoms may be infectious.
- Latent Stage (1 – 2 years after infection): No curable symptoms have been proven here yet, but this may progress to tertiary or cardiovascular syphilis.
- NEUROSYPHILIS (may occur at any stage)
- Loss of limb control or motor skills
- Unpredictable neurological vibrations in the body
How syphilis chancre can be treated?
If you’re HIV-negative, the early stages (primary to latent) are curable with one dose of Bicillin LA – a distinct type of penicillin often used for STD treatment. Take note that there are no over-the-counter and home remedies for syphilis treatment. The “follow-up” testing for Bicillin is within 7 – 13 months depending on your doctor’s recommendation. But if you’re HIV-positive, early stages are curable with either 2 – 4 doses. Follow-up testing is usually done within 3, 5, 9, 10 and 14 months. There are alternative medications just in case you’re allergic to penicillin.
Also take note that it is possible to be re-infected with syphilis even after treatment.
Here are five tips to reduce your risk of getting chancre:
- Use a latex glove and/or condom for each partner.
- Use polyurethane condoms or latex to help prevent the spread of infection during sex.
- Convince your partner to undergo syphilis tests.
- Obtain a full STD test on a monthly or annual basis.
- Limit the number of persons you’re having sex with.