What To Think About
Most states require doctors to report all cases of
syphilis to the local health department. In some states, doctors
are also required to ask for the names and addresses of your recent sex
partners. If you have syphilis, the health department may contact you to make sure
that you get treatment. If you give the names of your sex partners to your
doctor or the health department, they will be contacted in confidence by the
health department and advised to have a test for syphilis.
- If a screening test is positive (reactive), the
strength of the result may be determined by measuring the amount of reagin. The
results are then given in titers.
- A reactive or positive test result does not always mean that you
have syphilis. Other conditions can cause positive screening test results,
including injecting illegal drugs, recent vaccinations,
autoimmune diseases (such as systemic lupus
erythematosus, or SLE),
Lyme disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and in rare cases, pregnancy.
treatment, a positive reagin (VDRL and RPR) syphilis test result usually
becomes negative. Positive treponemal (FTA-ABS, MHA-TP, TPPA) tests stay
positive for a lifetime.
Syphilis and HIV infection
- Sores caused by syphilis (chancres) make
it easier to get and spread an HIV infection.
- People with HIV infection who have a negative VDRL test should
have a second test for syphilis if the infection is suspected.
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Devika Singh, MD, MPH - Infectious Disease
September 29, 2011
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