Syphilis – Diagnosis and Treatment
There are three ways to diagnose syphilis:
- A doctor’s recognition of its signs and symptoms
- Microscopic identification of syphilis bacteria
- Blood tests
These approaches are typically used together to detect syphilis and determine the stage of infection.
Two blood tests are usually used and repeated tests are sometimes necessary to confirm the diagnosis due to:
- False-negative results (blood tests that do not show signs of infection despite its presence) are common for up to three months after initial infection.
- False-positive results (showing signs of infection when it’s not present) are common in people with autoimmune disorders (such as HIV), certain viral infections, and other conditions.
Visit our Resources page for testing locations.
- Syphilis is treated according to the stage of infection with one or more injections of Benzathine Penicillin G. Other antibiotics can be used for patients allergic to penicillin. The longer you have had the infection, the more medication you need to cure it.
- Not everyone responds to the normal treatment so periodic blood tests to check that the infectious agent has been completely destroyed is highly recommended.
- All persons with syphilis will need to be retested for up to two years after treatment to ensure the medication worked.
- In all stages of syphilis, proper treatment will cure the disease, but in late syphilis, damage already done to body organs cannot be reversed.
Updated on: April 15, 2019