Using condoms can help prevent syphilis, but it's still possible to pass it on even with a condom if the sore or lesion is outside the area the condom covers.
Another good way to protect your partner is to regularly test for syphilis. We recommend annual (once a year) testing for all sexually active individuals and every 3 months if you have multiple sex partners or casual partners.
Because syphilis may not have symptoms, getting tested is the only way to know if you have it.
If you get syphilis, it is important to let your sex partners know so they can be tested and treated for syphilis too. Because it is so contagious, syphilis can spread very quickly within the community. Making sure your partners get tested and treated as soon as possible will help stop syphilis from spreading.
The period of time when partners are at risk for syphilis depends on the stage of syphilis. This is known as the "trace-back" period. The trace-back period is 3 months for primary syphilis, 6 months for secondary syphilis, and 12 months for early latent syphilis. Anyone you had sex with during the trace-back period is at risk of getting syphilis and should be tested. Anyone you had sex with in the last 3 months should also get treated, because it can take up to 3 months for a blood test to become positive.
If you have just been diagnosed with syphilis and are struggling to inform your partners, contact the Auckland Sexual Health Contact Tracing Service
who will support you with reaching out to your partners.