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Serologic Testing for Syphilis


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Diagnosis: Nontreponemal Serology Tests

Slide 5

April 2011

That brings us to serology, which has been the mainstay of syphilis diagnosis for decades. There are 2 classes of syphilis serology tests, with the first being the nontreponemal assays. These tests are designed to detect antibodies to nonspecific antigens, such as cardiolipin, that are produced in most patients with syphilis. Examples of nontreponemal tests include the rapid plasma reagin, or RPR, and the venereal disease research laboratory, or VDRL, assays. These tests have demonstrated good performance over the years, but can show low sensitivity in very early or late disease. Importantly, these tests usually revert to negative after successful treatment, and so they can be used to monitor response to therapy.

Nontreponemal Serology Tests


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