The syphilis test is used to detect components of the bacteria responsible for syphilis. It is often used in combination with the RPR (VDRL) test and as appropriate by a confirmation technique (TP-PA or INNO-LIA) conducted at the Laboratoire de santé publique du Québec (LSPQ). Syphilis is a mandatory reporting disease.
When requested as a front-line test, a negative syphilis result reflects the absence of syphilis but does not rule out syphilis in the dormant stage. Depending on the case, retesting three months after suspected contact or two to four weeks after the onset of symptoms may be necessary. A positive syphilis result is followed by an RPR test. The combination of the two results must be interpreted in light of the clinical situation (presentation, previous results, current treatments, etc.). In a person without reported syphilis, the presence of Treponema pallidum, the bacteria that causes syphilis, has to be confirmed by the LSPQ using more advanced techniques (TP-PA and INNO-LIA). In all cases, RPR (VDRL), TP-PA and INNO-LIA results are accompanied by an interpretation.