Testing, Treatment, and Reinfection.


Looking after your sexual health is important, and getting a regular sexual health test are a vital part of this. You should aim to get a sexual health test once every 3 months – especially if you change partners. You should get a sexual health check-up immediately if you have been told that a sexual partner has syphilis.

A check-up may involve:

Blood Sample

Usually completed through the use of a simple blood test.


If you have sores, the clinician may swab/ask you to use a cotton swab to obtain a sample – this is done by rubbing the swab on the sore.

Syphilis Rapid Test

These tests involve taking a small amount of blood from your fingertip (with a finger prick). Results from these tests are available in around 20 minutes.

If you have had a previous syphilis infection, syphilis antibodies will always show (reactive) positive on a rapid test. For this reason, if you have tested positive for syphilis in the past, only a blood test will give an accurate result.

Victer's Testing Story

About me...

My name is Victer. I migrated to Australia as an international student when I was 18. Coming to Australia alone at such a young age was not easy. I was insecure, spoke little English, and was still learning about myself and my queerness.

As I was exploring my sexuality, I became more active in the scene. One day I noticed symptoms, and thought I may have an STI (sexually transmitted infection).  It became evident I needed guidance and medical treatment. At this time, I did not understand the process of a STI test, nor had the knowledge or support to reassure me that everything was going to be okay. This experience was the beginning of my sexual health and wellbeing journey.

My first testing experience was less than ideal because I went to a random GP clinic, and to be honest, I was terrified. However, this motivated me to seek more information about sexual health check-ups so I explored some LGBTI friendly clinics who made me feel at ease. They fully understood my needs and provided me with ample educational materials that explained everything I needed to know. They were gay/bi friendly, non-judgemental and I trusted my results would be confidential.

Click here for a full list of recommended clinics.

Thanks to these experiences, friends I made along the way and organisations, such as the Queensland Council for LGBTI Health, I am more confident and I understand that we all play an important role in the safety, education and empowerment of our communities. 

Testing for syphilis
Why I test regularly?

Sexual health can be difficult to talk about, but good communication is key to ending stigma and reinforcing that there is no shame to test. It’s okay to test positive to an STI, it is very common. More importantly, we shouldn’t feel ashamed about letting our sexual partner (or partners) know if we have tested positive for an STI.

Over the years, I have learnt that sexual health is about my personal wellbeing and also the well-being of the wider community. Testing regularly means I get treated early (if I get an STI) minimising passing STI’s onto my sexual partners.

We need to normalise sexual health testing and be aware you can have an STI, even if there are no symptoms. This is why it is important to test regularly, and ideally every 3 months.

I realised there are many clinics in Queensland that test for free, and provide free treatment – no Medicare card required.

My appointment & how it works for me...

Now that I am more knowledgeable, I am more confident, which makes getting a sexual health check-up easy! This is how I do it:

  1. I call my preferred clinic in advance to make an appointment, and usually get a booking within a few days. They ask me a few questions over the phone, like; ‘when I tested last’, ‘do I have symptoms’ and ‘do I have a Medicare card’?
  2. At the appointment the clinician asks questions like; ‘what type of sex I’ve had’, ‘with men, women or both’. It’s important to be honest, as your answers will determine which tests are taken.
  3. After this casual conversation, I am asked to give a pee sample and self-swap my bum, in the privacy of the bathroom. I go back to the clinicians’ room and he does a throat swab for me (which isn’t painful) and takes a sample of my blood. It’s as simple as that!
  4. Results are ready within a week and if there is a positive result, the clinic will let me know. I now know most STIs can be cured, or treated, so I don’t worry anymore.   


Regular sexual health tests make me feel empowered, confident, and in control of my sexual health. I am now grateful for the opportunities I’ve had in Australia, the lessons I have learnt and for being able to call this side of the world my home – the place where I live, work, play and love.

Where to get a sexual health check up.

There are a lot of free clinics throughout Queensland (with or without Medicare) – to find these free clinics, please click here.

For a full list of sexual health check-up locations, please click here.


The good news is that syphilis is curable.

Treatment for syphilis is usually a one-time injection of antibiotics. However, depending on the stage of infection, a course of treatment may be required.

Medication is free at all public and some private clinics (the consultation may require payment)

It’s important to remember that even if you have been treated for syphilis, it is possible to become reinfected if you are exposed to the infection again. You don’t become immune.

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