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Positive RPR and FTA-ABS

Aug 12, 2003

Hi Doc. For the past few years, I have tested positive for syphilis on the RPR test, but the FTA-ABS has always been negative. In fact 4 blood donations showed I was negative on syphilis screening test, but for my yearly physicals (at least 9 or 10) I've tested positive of the RPR but negative of the FTA-ABS. This year for my physical, I tested positive on the FTA-ABS. Both myself and my spouse (I'm cetain of it) are monogamous. I recently contacted a doctor who stated that since both the RPR and the FTA-ABS was positive, one of us must have been unfaithful. He even stated that I could have had syphilis for years. What is your opinion?

Response from Dr. Frascino


I would suggest you see an infectious disease specialist in your area. Syphilis testing can be difficult to interpret. There can be confounding variables, such as the presence of other diseases like Lupus that might alter the syphilis test results. Also, the ID specialist will need to review the titers of your various RPR tests. It is possible that you have had a type of syphilis for quite some time. I wish I could be more specific, but with the information you provided, I cannot. See an infectious disease specialist to get this sorted out definitively once and for all.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob

Dr. Bob - HELP: Save Sex Not So Safe

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