What are sexually transmitted infections? 163
Sores on the Genitals (genital ulcers)
Most sores or ulcers on the genitals are sexually transmitted, but pressure sores,
boils or injuries can also cause sores on the genitals. Any genital sores should be
kept clean by washing with soap and clean water. Dry them carefully. Wash any
cloth you dry them with before you or anyone else uses it again.
WARNING! When a person has a sore on the genitals, it is easy to get other
infections through the sores—especially HIV and hepatitis B. To prevent infection,
avoid sex until the sores heal.
Syphilis is a serious STI that affects the whole body. It can
last for many years, getting worse and worse. Syphilis can
be cured if it is treated early.
1. The first sign is a small, painless sore that can look
like a pimple, blister, a flat wet wart, or an open sore.
The sore lasts for only a few days or weeks and then
goes away by itself. But the disease continues to spread
throughout the body.
2. Weeks or months later, the infected person may get a sore
throat, mild fever, mouth sores, swollen joints, or a rash—
especially on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
During this time the infected person can infect others.
3. All of these signs usually go away by themselves, but the
disease continues. Without treatment, syphilis can cause
heart disease, paralysis, mental illness, and death.
For a complete cure of syphilis, the full treatment is essential.
• If signs have been present less than 1 year, inject 2.4 million Units of
benzathine penicillin all at once—put half the dose into each buttock. Persons
allergic to penicillin can take tetracycline, 500 mg, 4 times each day for 15 days.
• If signs have been present more than 1 year, inject 2.4 million Units of
benzathine penicillin—half in each buttock—once a week for 3 weeks (a total of
7.2 million Units). If allergic to penicillin, take tetracycline, 500 mg, 4 times each
day for 30 days.
Note Pregnant or breastfeeding women who are allergic to penicillin can take
erythromycin (see page 343). Your partner should also be treated.
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007