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Treated Syphilis and tetsing positive after years

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I was diagnosed with and treated for syphilis when I was 30. I'm now 49. I went to the hospital last week, and a few days after my release, informed by my psychiatrist that I tested positive for syphilis. Is there any way this is a false negative based on my having the antibodies still from that first episode, or some other reason? Since that diagnosis, I've been married for ten years and then in a monogamous relationship for six years. Obviously, I'm very concerned. I know I will need to see a doctor, but I'm hoping this is at least possible.

Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases(STD)Specialist

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Dr. Deepu Sebin Sebastian is online now

Expert:  Dr. Deepu Sebin Sebastian replied 4 Days.


Thank you for asking your query at DoctorSpring.

1. Do you know what kind of Syphilis test was done ? RPR /FT-ABS/ VDRL ?
2. To confirm - Do you have any symptoms (or any unusual symptoms in general) suggestive of syphilis now ?

You can reply as a followup
Thank you

Patient replied :

I have some foot numbness that started around some back problems and surgery I had when I was in my mid-thirties. I was told the foot numbness might have been caused by the surgery and and electric nerve conduction yes suggested Sciatica. The surgery was for a herniated disk and was successful. Otherwise, I have been generally healthy. I do smoke. I no longer drink but used to. I do not have allergies except to penicillin. I don't have hypertension. The only other thing that I would note is that some years ago, while on very heavy amounts of Klonpin, I had a temporary loss of ability to speak which was later diagnosed as ocular migraine. I've had no repeat incidents. I get some minor back pain from prolonged sitting. That is it.

Expert:  Dr. Deepu Sebin Sebastian replied 3 Days.

1. Do you know what kind of Syphilis test was done ? RPR /FT-ABS/ VDRL ?

Patient replied :

I do not know what kind of test was done. My psychiatrist received the report and was unfamiliar with the details of the info. I do know i received a negative result to at least one VDROL several years after the initial diagnosis. Also so I don't know if this has any bearing but after I most my speech that incident about ten years ago, I remember the nurse saying a certain protein as higher than normal but it wasn't of concern -- I had a lumbar puncture then.

Expert:  Dr. Deepu Sebin Sebastian replied 2 Days.


Do not worry.
This test is most likely false positive. The positivity could be due to the past infection. In 20-40% (depending of the type of tests) a false positive result can occur if you had previous syphilis infection. In that case it just means you had Syphilis in the past.

Some tests have titre values. (not positive or negative) . It can also be falsely interpreted as positive.

However to be sure, the type of test needs to be known, and the exact values. I recommend getting in touch with a STD specialist or your Family Physician for that purpose (to interpret the results.). Alternatively you can upload it here.

Thank you
Dr.Deepu Sebin Sebastian.

Patient replied :

Hello -- I'd like to upload the info. Can I still do that Thursday night when I get home from the doctor with the files?

Expert:  Dr. Deepu Sebin Sebastian replied 1 Day.

Sure. Your consult is open for a month from the submission.

Best wishes.

Dr. Deepu Sebin Sebastian
Category: Select Speciality
MD, Internal Medicine - Stanley Medical School
Medical School - MBBS - Govt. Medical College, Kottyaam

Diagnostic Prediction - Stanford School of Medicine
Received Specialty training in Critical Care, Cardiology, Neurology, Gastroenterology, Nephrology from Stanley Medical College and in Endocrinology, Rheumatology.

Hematology and Geriatrics from Madras Medical College.
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