Sexual Health

Don’t fool around with syphilis

In 2020, notifications of infectious syphilis in Australia increased by nearly 90% from recorded rates in 2015.

Three populations are especially at risk: men who have sex with men; women of child-bearing age; those living in outbreak areas (including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities). Due to the rising concern, the Australian Government Department of Health launched the national campaign ‘Don’t fool around with syphilis’ in 2021 to raise awareness of the sexually transmissible infection (STI) syphilis and the current outbreak happening across Australia.

Not everyone with syphilis has symptoms, which means people often don’t realise they have the infection. That’s why it’s so important to get tested regularly. For those with symptoms, the first sign of syphilis is the appearance of sores or ulcers at the site of the infection (genitals and mouth). Over time, the disease can develop into rashes, skin lesions, swollen lymph nodes, hair loss, muscle and joint aches, headaches and fatigue. If left untreated, syphilis can eventually cause brain infections, dementia, lung and heart failure, blindness and death.

Click image to watch the campaign video

Visit the campaign website for downloadable resources including facts sheets, posters & digital social media kit.


Go to the NSW map to find your nearest publically funded sexual health clinic or see your Doctor for testing.

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