Syphilis is one of the most common STDs in the US and around the world, and the number of cases has been increasing in recent years. If left untreated, it can lead to serious health problems and even death in the infected person. A pregnant mother who has syphilis can transmit the infection to her baby, leading to severe birth defects or even stillbirth of the baby. This is why it’s very important to treat syphilis.
Many people are understandably worried about the cost of their syphilis treatment, especially if they don’t have insurance. How much does syphilis treatment cost? Will insurance help to cover this cost? What about the cost of testing for syphilis?
How is syphilis treated?
The treatment of syphilis almost always involves penicillin. Fortunately, the bacteria that causes syphilis still remains sensitive to penicillin, and it remains an effective treatment in most cases. For other STDs, such as gonorrhea, there have been increasing numbers of reports of cases that are resistant to antibiotics, making them very difficult to treat. We have not yet seen this happening on a widespread level with syphilis and penicillin.
For syphilis, penicillin is usually given by injection. In the early stages of the disease, just one injection of penicillin is generally enough to cure syphilis. In later stages, multiple injections are recommended, to ensure that the syphilis bacteria are eradicated from the brain and other parts of the body. It’s important to recognize that treatment will get rid of the bacteria and prevent any future damage to the body from the disease, but it may not be able to reverse damage that has already occurred. Early treatment helps to prevent irreversible damage.
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How much does syphilis treatment cost?
If you’ve been prescribed an injection of penicillin by your doctor, you may be wondering how much the syphilis shot costs. It’s very difficult to pin down the specific cost of any medication. This is because each pharmacy sets its own prices, and these can fluctuate from day to day, so the cost of the medication will vary.
It may be helpful to know that penicillin is generally not a very expensive medication. It’s widely believed to be the first antibiotic ever developed, and many generic versions are available. The cost of syphilis treatment is therefore not generally very high, and is certainly less than the cost of treating the complications that can result from leaving it untreated.
Does insurance cover the cost of syphilis treatment?
If you have health insurance, then your insurance plan will almost always cover the cost of your syphilis treatment. However, you might still need to pay some of the cost yourself, because of co-pays and deductibles. For those who don’t have health insurance, you will need to pay your entire syphilis treatment cost yourself.
It’s important to treat syphilis in its early stages. This reduces the risk of lasting damage to the body. Treating syphilis early will generally result in a lower syphilis treatment cost, since you will need only one injection instead of multiple. It will also help to avoid the costs of treating the complications that can result from long-term syphilis.
In order to find out whether you have syphilis, you will need to be tested. You can get STD testing at a clinic, or you can order a home STD test. Insurance may cover the cost of testing. For people at higher risk for syphilis (such as men who have sex with men), testing is recommended at least once a year, and sometimes even more often.
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Sexually transmitted infections (STIs). World Health Organization (2021). https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/sexually-transmitted-infections-(stis). Accessed 14 March 2022.
Syphilis – CDC Fact Sheet (Detailed). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2022). https://www.cdc.gov/std/syphilis/stdfact-syphilis-detailed.htm. Accessed 14 March 2022.
Syphilis – Sexually Transmitted Infections Treatment Guidelines, 2021. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2021). https://www.cdc.gov/std/treatment-guidelines/syphilis.htm. Accessed 14 March 2022.
Tuddenham S, Hamill MM, et al. Diagnosis and Treatment of Sexually Transmitted Infections: A Review. JAMA 2022 Jan 11;327(2):161-172. doi: 10.1001/jama.2021.23487.
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