As We See It

S is for syphilis and C is for contagious

Mr. Marcus, a porn star, had syphilis. His job, obviously, depended on having sex with people, but it turns out people don’t want to have sex with a guy who has syphilis. So Mr. Marcus altered the results of his syphilis test, and now, everybody else in the porn industry has syphilis, too.

Okay, that’s overstating it; but so far, nine more syphilis-positive actors have come forward. Presumably, the number will grow in the coming days, and antibiotics have been made available for more than 1,000 porn performers. If you’ve slept with a porn star, slept with somebody who’s slept with a porn star, or just fear (for whatever reason) that you might be infected, the following facts might be useful:

• If you’re having sex with a person who has syphilis, using a condom will lessen the risk of transmitting the disease but not eliminate the risk entirely.

• Got syphilis? At least you’re in good company: Al Capone, Paul Gauguin and Scott Joplin all died of syphilis, and Mao Zedong, Vincent van Gogh and Oscar Wilde are other suspected cases.

• Syphilis cannot be contracted via hot tubs, pools, bathtubs, toilet seats, clothing, cutlery or tractors.

• If you get tested for syphilis and the result is positive, your health care provider must notify public health authorities, who will then, hopefully, work to notify your sexual partners. It sounds bad, but it’s much better than the alternative (i.e., not being treated). Don’t believe me? Do a quick Google search for “syphilis infection” and see for yourself.

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