Syphilis Tests

Syphilis Tests

Syphilis is a serious, sexually transmitted disease caused by bacteria. Patients that have been in contact with infected individuals are at risk of acquiring the infection. Tests can be done to determine whether a person has contracted the disease. This article will provide an overview of the types of tests used to diagnose syphilis, how to prepare for the tests, their risks and when they should be done.

Preparation for Syphilis Tests

Before the tests are done, a physician should be consulted for advice. The doctor may need to ask some questions to determine whether there is a high risk of contracting the disease. The person being tested should also inform the doctor of any allergies, medical conditions or medications that they are taking, as this may affect how the tests are performed. Generally, no special preparation is required for syphilis tests.


There are different types of tests available to diagnose syphilis. Which type of test is used will depend on the lifestyle factors of the patient and the overall health status. The most common tests are the RPR or Rapid Plasma Reagin test, the TP-PA or Treponema pallidum particle agglutination test, and the FTA-ABS or Fluorescent Treponemal Antibody-Absorption test.

Types of Syphilis Tests

  • RPR or Rapid Plasma Reagin Test: This is the most common type of test for syphilis. It is a blood test that looks for antibodies in the blood that are produced by the body to fight the infection.
  • TP-PA or Treponema pallidum Particle Agglutination Test: This test also looks for antibodies in the blood, but it is more sensitive than the RPR test. This test is often used to confirm a positive RPR test, if the person has had the infection for some time.
  • FTA-ABS or Fluorescent Treponemal Antibody-Absorption Test: This test is used to detect the presence of antibodies to particular proteins associated with the syphilis bacteria. It is also more sensitive than the RPR test and is used to confirm a positive RPR test or TP-PA test.


The risks of a syphilis test are minimal. There can be some discomfort from having your blood drawn, but this should be short-lived. The risks of not doing the test are much greater, as untreated syphilis can cause serious complications, such as heart disease, seizures and even death.

When Syphilis Tests Should Be Done

If you have had contact with someone who has an active syphilis infection or is at high risk of contracting the disease, it is important to get tested for syphilis as soon as possible. The sooner the infection is detected, the easier it will be to treat it and prevent any serious complications. The tests should also be done on a regular basis if you are at high risk for contracting the disease.

Why Syphilis Tests Are Important

Syphilis tests are important for diagnosing the infection and determining the best course of action for treatment. If left untreated, syphilis can cause serious problems with the nervous system, heart, eyes and other organs. Therefore, it is critical to get tested if you think there is a possibility that you may have been exposed to syphilis.