SAN ANTONIO -

Testing coordinator for the San Antonio AIDS Foundation, Alberto Barragan, has been busy because SAAF has begun extending evening hours offering free syphilis testing on Tuesdays until 8 p.m.

"We've been getting a lot of phone calls about where they can go get tested after hours when they get off of work or get off of school,” said Barragan.

Syphilis infection rates in San Antonio are nearly five times the national average.

According to Metro Health, from 2011 to 2012, the number of syphilis cases in adults went up 80 percent.

“It can put people at higher risk for HIV because it's an open wound , so it's easier for someone to become infected with it," said Barragan.

Testing is free and easy. A vile of blood is drawn, and in five to seven days, your results are in.

A syphilis infection can start out as a sore or lesion, and then move to a rash on your skin. Fortunately, syphilis is easy to cure in those early stages. It becomes life threatening when the STD stays in your body for many years.

“Stage 4, which is late latent stage, there are no more symptoms everything going on is happening inside, it's attacking your heart, your lung, your liver, internal organs, it's attacking your nervous system," said Barragan.

The best way to prevent any type of STD or HIV is to abstain from sex or use protection. It's also important to have a serious conversation with your partner about their sexual history.

With 500 syphilis cases  accounted for last year, San Antonio has the highest rates in Texas right now, over Houston and Dallas.  Barragan believes education and testing is key in getting the syphilis epidemic under control.

Testing hours and dates at SAAF is as follows:

  • Mon.-Thurs. from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Tuesday from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For a list of recent stories Mariza Mendoza has done, click here.