Primary and secondary syphilis, 20 years' experience. 2. Clinical features

Genitourin Med. 1989 Jan;65(1):1-3. doi: 10.1136/sti.65.1.1.


The notes of 946 patients with primary and 854 with secondary syphilis were retrospectively reviewed. Of the 184 heterosexual men with primary syphilis, 182 (99%) had chancres affecting the penis, compared with 467 (64%) of the 728 homosexual men (p less than 0.0001). Anorectal chancres occurred in 249 (34%) of homosexual men. The commonest features of secondary syphilis included a rash, lymphadenopathy, and mucous patches of the mouth or genital area. Hepatitis, meningitis, other neurological problems, iridocyclitis, and periostitis were all exceptionally rare. The clinical features of primary and secondary syphilis do not appear to have changed in recent years.

MeSH terms

  • Chancre / epidemiology
  • Chancre / pathology
  • Female
  • Homosexuality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Syphilis / epidemiology*
  • Syphilis / pathology
  • Syphilis, Cutaneous / epidemiology
  • Syphilis, Cutaneous / pathology