• In 2019, syphilis was diagnosed about 1,500 times in the Netherlands. 96% of these are men who have sex with other men.





Syphilis causes an infection of the penis, vagina or anus. The symptoms of syphilis often start with a painless sore in, on or around the penis, vagina, anus or mouth. Later, spots on the skin (especially on palms and soles), swollen glands, flu, headache, sore throat and fatigue follow.

If the disease is not treated properly in the early stages, more organs can become infected. This can eventually lead to significant damage in vital organs.

Without proper treatment, you can still develop damage to the heart, brain, spinal cord or bones years later.



Syphilis is an STD caused by a bacteria. This bacterium can be transmitted through sexual contact. Syphilis can be treated with antibiotic injections. It is important to start treatment as soon as possible.

Risk group


Groups at risk for getting a syphilis infection are people who have sex without a condom with various bed partners, men who have sex with men, sex workers and visitors to sex workers. If your bed partner belongs to one of these groups, you also have a higher chance of getting a syphilis infection.

HIV and Syphilis

HIV and syphilis are transmitted in the same way, namely through sexual contact. In addition, a syphilis infection makes the mucous membranes more sensitive, making it easier for HIV to enter the body. A syphilis infection therefore increases the risk of contracting HIV.
HIV indicator conditions are conditions or symptoms that occur more often in people with an underlying HIV infection than in people without an HIV infection. Syphilis is one of the HIV indicator conditions. If you have or have had Syphilis and have not been tested for HIV, it is advisable to ask your doctor or general practitioner for an HIV test. Find it difficult to ask for an HIV test? You may download a call card that will help you formulate your question.