About syphilis

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It is caused by bacteria and can cause serious health problems if left untreated. However, it is easy to cure if found early. 

Syphilis is rare in Australia, but the numbers are increasing, especially in men who have sex with men and young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in Queensland, Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia. There has also been an increase in the rate of syphilis in Victoria in recent years. 

Disease type: 
Sexually transmissible
Vaccination available under NIP: 
No
Notifiable disease: 
Yes

Prevention, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

Some people with syphilis have no symptoms, so you may not know you have it unless you get tested. There are 4 stages of syphilis infection:

  • primary
  • secondary
  • latent
  • tertiary.

The signs and symptoms of syphilis depend on the stage of disease. 

For information about prevention, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, see healthdirect's syphilis page

Surveillance and reporting

Syphilis is a nationally notifiable disease

We monitor cases through the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS) and report data in our quarterly national syphilis monitoring reports.

For more on syphilis in Australia, you can search Communicable Diseases Intelligence.  

Related work

Our National strategies for bloodborne viruses and sexually transmissible infections address syphilis. Other work related to syphilis includes:

Last updated: 
14 June 2022