Symptoms and Psychosocial Aspect of the Disease Term Paper

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symptoms and psychosocial aspect of the disease as well as what treatments are available. The writer examines one epidemic from history to detail the way syphilis affected society at the time compared to how it affects society today. There were five sources used to complete this paper.

Over the last two or three decades the discovery and growth of the AIDS epidemic have effectively squashed concerns and knowledge about other STD's. This does not mean they are not around however, and it actually serves to open the doors for some of them to become more prevalent again as the focus is taken off of them and place on AIDS. One STD that has been around for many years and at one time was considered as dangerous as AIDS is today is Syphilis. Syphilis has been wreaking havoc on the world for hundreds of years and it is still one of the most dreaded diseases in the STD arena.

Syphilis has worked its way into society for several reasons. In days before antibiotics it was something that was not curable and many people died from it. Once antibiotics were invented they could be used to treat the disease but only if those who had it were forthcoming about naming their sexual partners so that they could be contacted and treated before it spread. For obvious reasons many were embarrassed to admit they had contracted the disease therefore they did not reveal their past partners and those people went on spreading the disease without knowing it (Syphilis What is syphilis? (

Syphilis is a bacteria called T. pallidum. The organism is spiral shaped and it moves throughout the body by splitting itself. Its rate of movement is a split about once a day. It splits in two then those two split in two and then those four do the same thing and so on until it is extremely prevalent in the body (Syphilis What is syphilis? ( disease begins by a chancre that forms on the genital area. If that is ignored it will heal over. This often leads the contractor to mistakenly believe that the sore is gone so there is no disease. The reality is that even if the sore is untreated and heals over the disease is still in the body and is splitting and spreading itself every day.


There are several symptoms of syphilis. Today the symptoms of AIDS are well-known and well publicized, with the symptoms of syphilis being downplayed. The symptoms of syphilis are similar to AIDS in that the further along that the disease has progressed the more noticeable and more serious the symptoms become.

Syphilis is different than AIDS in that the disease can be treated and cured whereas in AIDS only the symptoms can be treated and relieved. The symptoms of syphilis are felt in varying degrees by different people (Syphilis What is syphilis? (

In the primary stages of the disease there is a lesion or a sore. It forms in or near the genital area. About fifty percent of the lesions are reported to develop a firm red raised border around its edges (Syphilis What is syphilis? (

The chancre is generally a dark pink color and does not bleed easily. It must be stressed that the appearance of this chancre can vary greatly. Furthermore, it is not necessarily a single lesion; multiple lesions may exist but are less common. If the lesion is untreated, it may heal on its own. However, without the attention of a physician the disease will progress (Syphilis What is syphilis? ("

If ignored the second stage is entered. In the second stage of syphilis the symptoms are new and different. By now the sore has healed over and new secondary lesions are apt to form. Many patients fail to realize it is an STD warning because the genital lesion is gone and the secondary lesions are located away from the genital areas. These lesions often appear on the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet (Syphilis What is syphilis? (

While the hands and feet are the primary areas for the second set of lesions they can also appear elsewhere including all body parts and areas. Symptoms of syphilis in this second stage can also include sore throats, with a low grade fever. Headaches are also a common complaint among those who ignore or do not see the first sign and enter the second stage of the disease (Syphilis What is syphilis? (

All of these symptoms can come one at a time, or in any combination. In addition they are sometimes accompanied by a rash. The rash does not itch or hurt and it will eventually go away. All other symptoms will also go away and this is the indicator that the disease has moved into a stage referred to as latent syphilis (Syphilis What is syphilis? (

The stages of syphilis are marked in time as well as appearance and it generally takes between 6 and 24 months for the latent stage to be entered. The latent stage of syphilis sometimes triggers a re-entry of the symptoms from the second stage, but only in 25% of the cases (Syphilis What is syphilis? ( the remaining 75% of those who have the disease they are symptom free, which is why it is called the "latent" stage. Latent means to lie hidden, or not visible now but might become so in the future which is a perfect description of this stage of syphilis (Syphilis What is syphilis? (

This is where it is determined who will have future troubles and who will not. Many who enter the stage of latent syphilis remain there for the rest of their life, while others stay there until they go into late stage syphilis. Late stage syphilis generally appears within 3-7 years of initial exposure (Syphilis What is syphilis? (

It is sometimes referred to as Tertiary syphilis and it affects approximately 35% of those who are not treated for the initial infection.

Late syphilis may take the forms of late benign syphilis, cardiovascular syphilis and neurosyphilitic disease (Syphilis What is syphilis? ( patient may have one or a combination of these forms. The mortality rate for all patients with untreated syphilis is approximately 25%. Although the majority of patients who are left untreated will not develop late syphilis, there is no way to diagnose which patients are at risk (Syphilis What is syphilis? ("

Tertiary Benign or Late Benign Syphilis is extremely rare in the U.S. And Canada though it does occur. Harmful ulcers form on the affected organs that include liver, skin, digestive tract and muscles. It can also have ulcers form on eyes and endocrine organs. In most cases the doctor can treat the ulcers and the patient recovers but if the ulcers are ignored or the treatments fail complications from having ulcers on the organs are possible (Syphilis What is syphilis? (

Cardiovascular Syphilis occurs in about 10% of those who are not initially treated. The affective lifespan for this to occur is between 10 and 40 years from exposure. This is perhaps the most serious complication of untreated syphilis because it is often fatal. This form of the disease damages the heart and the muscles surrounding the heart (Syphilis What is syphilis? (

Under 10% of all untreated patients will also be affected by neurosyphilitc disease. The central nervous system is adversely affected which generally results in paralysis and/or paresis (insanity)" (Syphilis What is syphilis? ( is contrary to the commonly held belief that everyone who has untreated syphilis will go crazy. Actual data indicates that there is more chance of physical dysfunction and death than there is to go crazy because of contracting and ignoring the symptoms of syphilis (Syphilis What is syphilis? (

Syphilis is contracted through sex and body fluids. This means that one can get it by intercourse, kissing, anal sex and other things that trade and mix bodily fluids. It can also be transmitted through open sores or cracks on the skin as well as through fetal transmission (Syphilis What is syphilis? (

Syphilis does not survive well outside the body so that non-sexual contractions of the disease are uncommon. Use of a latex condom and dental dam will significantly reduce the risk of contracting syphilis (Syphilis What is syphilis? ("

Today syphilis is treated with antibiotics. The most common medication prescribed for this disease is penicillin or penicillin drugs.

There have been many debates about the beginning of syphilis. Many believe that it began in the 16th century (ORIGINS OF SYPHILIS ("Europeans blamed each other, referring to it variously as the Venetian, Naples, or French disease. One hypothesis assumes a New World origin, and holds that sailors who accompanied Columbus and other explorers brought the disease back to Europe (ORIGINS OF SYPHILIS ( explanation is that syphilis was always present in the Old World but was not identified as a separate disease…[continue]

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