Testing for Syphilis
Navigating Treatment Options: The Penicillin Paradigm
When patients receive a positive result, they should seek treatment immediately. Without proper treatment, syphilis develops quickly. Thankfully, there are several treatment options. Penicillin is the first treatment option for all stages. While this antibiotic can treat syphilis, it cannot undo the damage late-stage syphilis causes.
Treating Syphilis With Penicillin G
Penicillin G benzathine is the ideal treatment for syphilis. The dosage and length of this antibiotic treatment depend on the stage of syphilis the patient has. Longer treatment is required for those with latent or tertiary syphilis. This is also the only treatment proven effective for instances of syphilis during pregnancy.
If a pregnant patient is allergic to penicillin G, they must go through a desensitizing process before treatment.
Patients should know that this treatment regimen sometimes causes a Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction on the first day. This is normal. Symptoms include nausea, fever, chills, headaches, and body aches.
Doctors may prescribe alternative types of penicillin, but penicillin G is historically the most effective treatment method.
Other Treatment Options
Patients who aren’t pregnant and are allergic to penicillin G may also receive treatment by:
Taking Care of the Community
Patients can use antibiotics and rapid STD testing to protect themselves, but they must also protect their communities. After receiving a positive result, they should immediately contact any recent sexual partners. These partners should test for syphilis as soon as possible.
They should also refrain from having sex with any other partners until the infection is gone. Doing so, even with protection, risks spreading syphilis to more people. Keeping the infection as contained as possible is vital to overall community health.