Combating the outbreak of
syphilis in Halifax

easy to get


Syphilis can be transmitted through all types of sexual activity:

Blow Jobs

Vaginal Sex

Anal Sex

Hand Jobs

And using a condom can help reduce the risk

What does it look like?


The first symptom is a painless, round, red sore called a chancre (SHANKer) that can appear anywhere you’ve had sexual contact - mouth, hands, anus, genitals.


It might appear as a rash on your hands or feet or other parts of your body.

Fever, sore throat, muscle aches, head aches, hair loss, feeling tired.


Latent means unseen, so you will have no symptoms. But you still have it and can pass it on to your sexual partners.


Tertiary (final) stage syphilis can kick in after you’ve had it for a while – even years – with or without symptoms:

Having trouble moving your arms and legs, paralysis, numbness, blindness, heart disease, and death.

Pregnant women who have syphilis can pass it on to their fetus which can cause serious illness in the baby.


Syphilis killed Christopher Columbus, Al Capone, and Paul Gauguin among others.

easy to test

happens if
I think I might
have syphilis?


or my partner told me they have it?

There is an outbreak of syphilis in Halifax right now, especially among men having sex with men. And when it comes to syphilis, blow jobs and hand jobs count as sex.

First. Don’t have sexual contact of any kind with anyone until you get tested and treated.

Get tested. All positive STI tests are reported to Public Health. Your name will be kept absolutely private.

Tell any and all your sexual partners that you’ve tested positive for syphilis so they can get tested too.

get tested if:

You have ANY of the symptoms listed above, under Easy to Get

You have had sexual contact of any kind, including handjobs and blowjobs, giving or getting.

You have any risk factors such as:

  • lack of protection during oral sex and rimming
  • multiple sex partners - anonymous and / or casual partners
  • history of HIV
  • contact with someone who has been diagnosed with syphilis
  • ulcers in your / your partner's genital area and / or mouth

many ways to get tested

A syphilis test requires a simple blood draw. Simply:

  1. download and print the NEW capital health blood work requisition form and go to any of these capital health blood collection sites. download and print the capital health blood work requisition form and go to any of these capital health blood collection sites.
    To have our blood work requisition form emailed directly to you, please submit your email address below.

    Please note: your email address will not be stored or used in any other way.


  2. go to your family doctor, walk-in clinic, std clinic, halifax sexual health centre, pridehealth or your university health centre. Take the lab requisition your doctor gives you to any blood collection site.

If you have syphilis, there's a chance that you may have another Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI), so we recommend getting a full STI test.

Getting Results

If you downloaded the lab requisition from this site, one week after your test, call 481-5824 to get your results. You will be asked to leave your name, a phone number where you can be reached and the best time to return your call. A Public Health Nurse will call you back to discuss your results. Messages are checked regularly so you will be called back on the same day (Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 4pm). Your results are kept in the strictest confidence.

If you used a lab requisition from a doctor / clinic, please contact them for the results.

get the cure

if you test positive ...

you should get treated as soon as possible.
go to the std clinic as soon as you can.

If you’ve had syphilis for less than a year, one visit and two shots of penicillin will usually cure it, just like that. But remember to get your follow up bloodwork to make sure.

If you’ve had syphilis for more than a year, or if you are also HIV positive, you may need more doses of antibiotics.

Remember, you can get syphilis again after you’ve been treated,
just like you can get the flu or strep throat over again.

If you get treated for syphilis, you must not have sexual contact with any partners until your repeat blood tests show that you have been cured.

So, get tested every 3 to 6 months

(especially if you have multiple and / or casual partners).

– and remember,

blow jobs and hand jobs count

Helpful Link Ups

For more information on syphilis and other STIs, click on the following links.

AIDS Coalition, Halifax Sexual Health, Pride Health, Capital Public Health