Syphilis Test

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Also known as: VDRL; RPR; FTA; TPHA
Formal name: Treponema pallidum

At a Glance

Why Get Tested?

To see whether a person has syphilis caused by a bacteria called Treponema pallidum, and how far the disease has progressed. This information helps the doctors to choose the best possible treatment. Timely diagnosis of the infection also helps to cure the disease early and decrease the chances of complications.

When to Get Tested?

If you have symptoms of syphilis or
you have another Sexually transmitted disease (STD) or
you have a partner who has syphilis or
if you are pregnant or
to monitor the treatment of syphilis or
if you are involved in high risk sexual activities.

Sample Required?


Blood - Most common method used for testing is doing a blood test by taking blood from your vein. Your body produces antibodies (a type of protein) when infected with syphilis. This antibody can be tested and measured in your blood to diagnose syphilis.

Swab/scrape – If you have a sore/ulcer then a swab can be taken from that to test under the microscope for the bacteria (less commonly done nowadays) or it can be tested for bacterial genetic material (PCR, polymerase chain reaction)

CSF - In certain cases, if syphilis involves the brain, doctors can put a needle through your back to tap some fluid (CSF, Cerebrospinal fluid), which can be tested for infection.

Test Preparation Needed?