Thank you for your inquiry. This is an interesting question, because of how syphilis testing works. In Manitoba, syphilis is usually diagnosed with a blood test for a specific antibody. This antibody is made by the body as a response to a syphilis infection. Once a person has been infected with syphilis, this antibody will usually remain in their blood for life. The lab also uses another test, called rapid plasma reagin (or RPR) which serves as a marker to measure the syphilis infection in the blood. Once a person with syphilis is treated, the RPR will drop over time, which helps healthcare providers know if the infection has cleared. It is also true that if the RPR level rises, it usually means a person has been re-exposed to syphilis and will need treatment again.
So while it may be true that a person with a previous syphilis infection won’t ever receive a “negative” syphilis antibody test, it’s very important to know that syphilis is fully curable. The best next step is to have follow up testing as directed by your trusted healthcare provider.
STI testing provides an opportunity for you to discuss the need for the test, transmission, signs and symptoms, risk reduction, preventive measures and what the results may mean? with your healthcare provider.