Syphilis Rise In Northern Ireland Has Been Called Worrying

10th, February 2014

How much do you know about sexual health? Take our quick quiz to find out.

Health experts have said this week that they are seeing a worrying rise in cases of the sexually transmitted infection syphilis in Northern Ireland. 

If left untreated, the STI can cause mental deterioration, blindness, deafness and lead to a range of issues with the central nervous system.

Sexually transmitted infections, in general, are on the increase in Northern Ireland but the majority are easily treated.

At the 3fivetwo Group we offer a private and confidential rapid access sexual health clinic where you can meet one of our sexual health experts.

If you have any specific questions about getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases please contact us on 0845 60 06 352 or email us at

Syphilis factfile - What you need to know

  • Syphilis is a potentially deadly bacterial bug that can be caught through having sex with someone infected.
  • The bacteria which causes it, treponema pallidum, can enter the body through close contact with someone with an infected sore.
  • It is possible to catch syphilis if you are an injecting drug user and share a needle with somebody who is infected.
  • The first stages are painless. A highly infectious sore can appear on genitals or sometimes around the mouth. It can last for two to six weeks before disappearing.
  • The second stage is a skin rash and sore throat that can disappear within weeks. But a latent phase, with no symptoms, can last for years. It can progress to tertiary syphilis, causing strokes, paralysis, blindness or death.
  • The primary and secondary stages are when people are at their highest risk.
  • In the latent phase – and usually around two years after becoming infected – syphilis can”t be passed on to others but can still cause symptoms. Anyone who suspects they have syphilis should visit a doctor. The earlier it is treated, the less chance there is of serious complications.
  • The only guaranteed way to prevent syphilis is to avoid sexual contact or to have sexual contact only with a faithful partner who has been tested and does not have the infection.


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Think you’re informed about sexual health? Try our quiz and see how you much you really know about sexual health.

1.) How many people in the UK are diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease every year?

a. 125,000

b. 750,000

c. 500,000

2.) If left untreated, what can chlamydia cause?

a. Hair loss

b. Weight gain

c. Infertility

3.) What percentage of people carrying Genital Herpes, don’t know they have it?

a. 34%

b. 56%

c. 80%

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4.) What is Gonorrhoea? 

a. A bacterial infection passed on via infected sores

b. An infection caused by the herpes simplex virus

c. A bacterial infection that is found in sexual fluids

5.) 2010 saw a rise in STIs occurring amongst which age group in the UK?

a. 16 – 24 year olds

b. 34 – 45 year olds

c. 50 – 65 year olds

6.) What is the most commonly diagnosed STI in the UK?

a. Genital Warts

b. Syphilis

c. Chlamydia

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7.) Which STI has seen the biggest increase since 2012?

a. Chlamydia

b. Genital Warts

c. Gonorrhoea

So how did you do? If you answered C to any of those questions then you were correct. Well done! If, however, there were some you didn’t get then maybe you need to brush up on your STI knowledge. There’s a wealth of information about sexual health out there and it’s not just for teenagers. Make sure that you keep yourself up to date in order to enjoy a healthy, happy relationship with your partner and your body.

STD and STI Testing: Frequently Asked Questions

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This is a list of frequently asked questions about STI testing. If you have any specific questions about getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases please contact us on 0845 60 06 352 or email us at

  • How do I know if I have an STI? What are the symptoms?

Most STIs do not have any symptoms to start with, but when they occur, they vary by disease. If unsure if it is best to get a sexual health test.


  • When should I get a sexual health screen?

The window periods are different for each one.  This is the period that you have to wait between any incident you are concerned about and getting tested. For example, Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea can typically be detected after two weeks.

  • How long does it take to get results?

This varies by the tests you choose, but is within 1-5 days from when the sample is received in the laboratory. Our HIV rapid test can provide accurate results on the same day at your appointment.

  • Are my results confidential?

Yes. All results are 100% confidential and will be known only to you and the 3fivetwo Group - Sexual Health Clinic. The results will not be shared with any third parties.

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Click here to read the BBC article about the rise of syphilis in Northern Ireland


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