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Syphilis is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection that causes genital ulcers (sores) in its early stages. If untreated, syphilis can also lead to more serious symptoms.

An ancient disease, syphilis is still of major importance today. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year 55,400 people in the United States get new syphilis infections. During 2012, there were 49,903 reported new cases.

In addition, HIV infection and syphilis are linked. Syphilis increases the risk of transmitting as well as getting infected with HIV.

NIAID Research on Syphilis

Developing better ways to diagnose and treat syphilis is an important research goal of scientists supported by NIAID.

Scientists are developing new tests that may provide better ways to diagnose syphilis and define the stage of infection. Efforts to develop a diagnostic test that would not require a blood sample are a high priority. For example, researchers are evaluating saliva and urine to see whether they would work as well as blood. Researchers also are trying to develop other diagnostic tests for detecting infection in babies.

More About NIAID Research on Syphilis

Last Updated October 27, 2014