About Syphilis Testing
Syphilis (Treponema pallidum)
How soon after sex should I test for syphilis?
The window period for syphilis is 3 months. This is the time between coming into contact with syphilis and when a test is able to detect it.
If a sexual partner has let you know that you may have come into contact with syphilis, or if you have symptoms that sound similar to syphilis, don’t freak out. But it is a good idea to see a doctor, as they might decide to give you medicine straight away. A great list of doctors to go to can be found here, or you can visit your local sexual health clinic.
How often should I test for syphilis?
Usually, testing every 3 to 12 months is appropriate, depending on how much sex you’re having. A good general rule is to test closer to every 3 months the more active you are.
How does RAPID test for syphilis?
RAPID uses the Alere Syphilis Determine test, which only works for people who haven’t had syphilis before. The test involves collecting a small amount of blood from your finger, taking only 16 minutes to get a result.
The testing device looks for the chemicals (antibodies) your body makes when you have syphilis. But at first, there isn't enough for the test to work. So, the day after you might have come into contact with the syphilis bacterium, it is too early to test. We suggest testing 6 weeks after.
How do I test for syphilis if I’ve had it before?
You can get syphilis again if you've had it before. So, testing regularly is a good idea. You just need to do a special test that RAPID doesn’t have. This test is available at any sexual health clinic or through any of the doctors listed here.
Why is it so important to test for syphilis?
Taking medicine will get rid of the syphilis bacterium. However, where you don't take medicine and the bacterium is hiding in your body, syphilis can lead to complications - especially if you're pregnant. It can lead to still births or cause significant harm to unborn babies. So, it is important to get tested and treated.