What is syphilis?

syphilisSyphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the Treponema pallidum bacterium. It can cause long-term complications and even death if not treated properly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports about 56,000 new syphilis infections annually in the United States, of which 13,970 are primary and secondary (P&S) infections . Syphilis symptoms can look like many other diseases and the infection progresses in stages if not treated early.

The first stage of syphilis is known as chancre which occurs on the genitals, vagina, anus or in the rectum. This chancre appears where the syphilis virus entered the body. Without treatment the person progresses to the second stage which begins with skin rashes and mucous membrane lesions or sores that are usually found in the mouth, vagina or anus. During the last and most dangerous latent stage, syphilis becomes asymptomatic (shows no symptoms) if the infected person does not receive treatment. This period lasts for years and could result in serious organ damage and even death.

How do you test for syphilis? tests for syphilis using the FDA-approved Rapid Plasma Reagin (RPR) test. This RPR test looks for antibodies developed by the body to combat the syphilis virus. A confirmatory test is performed if the initial test comes back positive.

How is syphilis transmitted?

Syphilis is transmitted through direct contact with a syphilis sore which can be a chancre or a lesion on the body of an infected person. Chancres are usually present on external genitals, vagina, anus, or in the rectum of an infected person. They can also be found inside the mouth or on the lips. The easiest way to contract syphilis is by having unprotected vaginal, anal, and oral sex with an infected person. It can be transmitted is by an infected mother to her baby during pregnancy.

How soon can I get tested after exposure?

Our doctors recommend syphilis testing 3 – 6 weeks after possible exposure.

What do I need to do to prepare for test?

No preparation or fasting is necessary to take the syphilis RPR test through

How we test for Syphilis

Our physicians use the Rapid Plasma Reagin (RPR) test, which looks for antibodies that fight an infection. If positive, a Treponemal Pallidum Assay (TPA) test is used to confirm the presence of the bacteria. Getting tested is essential because it is possible to have a symptomless infection and unknowingly transmit it to your partner.

All laboratory testing, including STD tests, accuracy rates are measured in terms of sensitivity and specificity. Our FDA-approved test has a sensitivity rate of 95% and a specificity of 91%.

More Information About Testing

Does syphilis testing use blood or urine?

To test for syphilis, we use a small blood sample.

What do I need to do to prepare for the test?

No preparation or fasting is necessary to take this test.

When is the right time to test?

It is recommended that you wait a minimum of 3-6 weeks post-exposure before taking a syphilis test. Once you have been treated, get retested in 3 months to ensure that the infection has been cleared.

What will the test results say?

There are two possible outcomes: positive (reactive) or negative (non-reactive). A negative result means that there was no detectable traces of it in your system. A positive result may indicate that you have syphilis. However, a positive diagnosis cannot be established until a TPA confirmation test can they run that differentiates syphilis from other conditions.

Can syphilis be cured or treated?

Yes, syphilis is curable and can be treated with antibiotics. Should you test positive for syphilis, our physicians are available to discuss your test results over the phone at no additional cost.

Who needs syphilis testing?

If you are sexually active, you are at risk for contracting syphilis. Not only is it easy for you to transmit, it can also lie dormant for many years without displaying symptoms. The best way to be sure about your status is to get tested. Testing for syphilis should be a regular part of your STD screening, particularly if you had unprotected sex and are unsure of your partner’s status.

When is the Right Time to Test?

Now is the best time to test.

If you had a recent encounter with someone whose STD status you do not know, it is important that you get tested. Our doctors recommend testing for it at least 3-6 weeks post-exposure, then again at three months to confirm that the infection has been cleared.

Also if you have not been tested for other STDs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV-1, HIV-2, hepatitis A, B, C, and herpes-1 or herpes-2, in the last year, our doctors recommend taking the all-inclusive 10 Test Panel testing to ensure that you are completely STD free.

We also offer a chlamydia-gonorrhea test panel. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are known as co-existing infections, meaning that having one infection may put you at risk of having the other.

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