Lancet. 2023 Jul 22;402(10398):336-346. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(22)02348-0.
Syphilis is a sexually and vertically transmitted bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. Its prevalence is high in low-income and middle-income countries, and its incidence has increased in high-income countries in the last few decades among men who have sex with men. Syphilis is a major cause of adverse pregnancy outcomes in low-income and middle-income countries. Clinical features include a primary chancre at the point of inoculation, followed weeks later by the rash of secondary syphilis, a latent period, and in some cases, involvement of the eyes, CNS, and cardiovascular systems. It is diagnosed serologically. A single intramuscular dose of long-acting benzathine penicillin is recommended for people who have had syphilis for less than 1 year and longer courses for people with late latent syphilis. Control strategies include screening and treatment of all pregnant women, and targeted interventions for groups at high risk. Vaccine development, research on antibiotic prophylaxis, and digital messaging as prevention strategies are ongoing.