The key difference between syphilis and HIV is that syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by a bacterium called Treponema pallidum, while HIV is the virus that causes a sexually transmitted disease called AIDS.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are diseases that are usually spread by sexual intercourse. Some major sexually transmitted diseases are syphilis, HIV/AIDS, Chlamydia, genital herpes, genital warts, gonorrhea, some forms of hepatitis, and trichomoniasis. They are common contagious diseases.
What is Syphilis?
Syphilis is a highly contagious disease that is mainly spread through sexual activity, including both oral and anal sex. Syphilis is caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. People get it through direct contact with syphilis sore on the infected person’s body. This normally happens during sexual activity. However, the bacteria can also get into the body through cuts in the skin or through mucous membranes. Moreover, syphilis cannot be spread by toilet seats, doorknobs, swimming pools, hot tubs, bathtubs, shared clothing, or eating utensils.
In early syphilis, people get one or more sores called chancres, which are usually small and painless ulcers. In secondary syphilis, people usually get a rosy copper penny rash on the palms of their hands and sores on their feet. These people may also experience moist, wart-like lesions in their groin, white patches inside their mouths, swollen lymph glands, fever, hair loss, and weight loss. In tertiary syphilis, people may have severe problems in their heart, brain, and nerves. They could also become paralyzed, blind, deaf, get dementia or impotence at this stage. Syphilis can be diagnosed through blood tests, cerebrospinal fluid tests, and darkfield microscopy. Furthermore, syphilis can be treated through a single injection or three doses of long-acting benzathine penicillin G.
What is HIV?
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that causes a sexually transmitted disease called AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). This virus causes damage to the cells in the immune system and weakness in the ability to fight everyday infections and diseases. HIV also results in acquired immune deficiency syndrome. People with this infection may experience rapid weight loss, extreme fatigue, sores, infections, neurologic disorders, and cancers.
HIV can be diagnosed through HIV tests. Furthermore, the treatment for AIDS includes antiretroviral medicines (abacavir, didanosine, emtricitabine, lamivudine, stavudine, zalcitabine) and lifestyle changes such as taking regular exercises, eating a healthy diet, stopping smoking and having yearly jabs.
What are the Similarities Between Syphilis and HIV?
- Syphilis and HIV are due to unprotected sexual activities.
- Adults with sexually transmitted syphilis have an estimated two to five-fold increased risk of contracting HIV.
- Both syphilis and HIV can cause life-threatening complications.
- They can cause a high social burden.
- Both syphilis and HIV are treated through specific medicines.
What is the Difference Between Syphilis and HIV?
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by a bacterium called Treponema pallidum, while HIV is a virus that causes a sexually transmitted disease called AIDS. This is the key difference between syphilis and HIV. Furthermore, complications of syphilis include tumors, neurological problems (headache, stroke, meningitis, hearing loss, blindness, dementia, loss of pain and temperature sensation, sexual dysfunction, bladder incontinence), cardiovascular problems (damages to heart valves), pregnancy, and childbirth issues. On the other hand, complications of HIV-causing disease include pneumocystis, pneumonia, candidiasis, tuberculosis, cytomegalovirus infection, cryptococcal meningitis, and toxoplasmosis.
The following table summarizes the difference between syphilis and HIV.
Summary – Syphilis vs HIV
Adults with sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis or other genital ulcers have an estimated two to fivefold increased risk of contracting HIV. Syphilis is caused by a bacterium called Treponema pallidum. HIV is a virus that causes a sexually transmitted disease called AIDS. This summarizes the difference between syphilis and HIV.
1. “Image from page 110 of “A manual of syphilis and the venereal diseases,” (1900)” By
Internet Archive Book Images (Public Domain) via Flickr
2. “HIV Virion Structure” By NIAID (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr