syphilis blood test

When a Syphilis Test is ordered?

A test is essential when someone:

  • Has syphilis symptoms —  when there is a chancre on the genitals or throat.
  • Is either infected with or being treated for another STD — such as gonorrhea or HIV.
  • Is pregnant. A test is mandatory as CDC recommends, purely to protect the baby from a possible infection.
  • Has non-specific symptoms that resemble or point to those of syphilis. Such a test can help in determining the exact cause of the illness.
  • Is a man, who has anal sex with men.
  • Has engaged in a high-risk sexual activity, whether man or woman.
  • Has one or more partners who have tested positive for syphilis, gonorrhea, HIV, or other such STDs.

As per CDC recommendations, periodical follow-up testing for such cases is essential. When a person has been treated for syphilis in the past, a follow-up testing helps in ensuring that treatment is successful and the infection cured.

NOTE:

In people who are sexually active, they should consult a doctor about any suspicious rash or sore in the genital area. A chancre on the genital most probably indicated a syphilis infection but that’s not the only STD which causes genital sores and rashes. There are many other sexually transmitted diseases besides syphilis.

If you are tested positive, tell your sexual partner(s) to get tested as quickly as possible. That’s the least you can do to save a spouse. This is a must to stop the spread of the disease.

Why It Is Done

Syphilis bacteria can spread through the bloodstream to all parts of the body. If not treated in time, syphilis is capable of causing terminal heart attacks, brain damage, bone and spinal cord damage, complete blindness, and death.

The risk of contracting other STDs increases if you have syphilis. This STD prepares the ground for the invasion other STDs.  When chancres are present, you are at least 10 times more likely to be infected with HIV, if exposed. So, if you have them, you should be tested for HIV.

How a Syphilis test is done

A test for syphilis is done to Screen for syphilis or check treatment for a syphilis infection. A screening test helps the doctor to look for a certain disease or condition before the real symptoms manifest. This increases our chance of finding the infection before we are forced to test for syphilis. An advanced diagnosis can save precious time in treating the patients for a full recovery before permanent damage is done to organs and tissues.

Methods Used:

There are two types of tests used for confirming the infections. The first one searches for the antibodies and the other method searches for the Treponema pallidum bacteria or genetic materials from the bacteria.

Why are there two methods instead of one?

In the early stages of infection with Treponema pallidum, our body is not in a state of producing sufficient antibodies. The time taken by the human body to produce syphilis antibodies varies considerably. This period is called the Syphilis Window period, which varies between 2 to 90 days. Some people show up the antibodies as quickly as 2 days and some take as long as 90 days for the same. But after 90 days almost everybody shows up the antibodies.

As it is not possible to determine the window period for a particular STD in each individual, so we use two different methods to determine an infection. If one method tests negative we try out the other. Even if someone tests positive, the other method is used to confirm the result. Otherwise, it is considered a false positive. But in both the cases, the individual has to undergo another test in 90 days.

Screening for Syphilis:

Antibody tests: These tests detect antibodies in the blood serum (Serology test) and sometimes in the cerebrospinal fluid. This test is taken if the history of infection indicates that the patient is well beyond the window period. If the individual doesn’t display the detectable amount of antibodies, then there can be two reasons.

  1. He is well within the Window period.
  2. He is not infected.

So, the individual has to undergo the following test.

Diagnosis Syphilis Test:

The purpose of this test is to detect the Treponema pallidum bacteria or its genetic materials. In early stages of Syphilis, there may not be sufficient antibodies, so an antibody test will most likely come out negative. To avoid such false negatives, this test searches for the bacteria itself in the test samples taken from the chancre or genital sore. A special instrument called a dark-field microscope is used to detect the bacteria.

Home Syphilis Test:

There is a home testing method that can be done at home with a Syphilis rapid test kit. These kits are equally accurate and use a blood test similar to the lab method for syphilis testing.

Sometimes, testing for syphilis alone may not be enough, so you have to test for HIV, gonorrhea, and chlamydia additionally. Some home kits come as a test bundle kit with the following for these STDs combined.

This bundle contains the following tests:

  • 2 x HIV Rapid Test
  • Chlamydia Test
  • Gonorrhea Test
  • Syphilis Test

Read about the details of each type of Syphilis test here.

 

christopher columbus

“Those who overlook History are condemned to repeat it.”  Anonymous

Many fantastic things have been said about the importance of history. We agree with some and disagree with the rest, but there is this one thing we all agree with– history repeats itself. So, if we want to deal with this insidious killer called Syphilis conclusively, then we must know about its history.

Syphilis is very old, almost ancient. How old, how ancient?

It’s very difficult to say. Scientists have traced its presence to an era as old as 1400 AD, but they too agree that that’s the not the exact period. Its exact place of origin and time is almost impossible to ascertain. It’s not sure that it existed as early as that time but that’s not the period it originated.

Maybe it was there with the human race forever.

What is Syphilis?

It’s a dreadful “Sexually Transmitted Disease.”   Its impact on any healthy individual, given the required time, is horrifying.

It can eat away your tissues, bones, teeth, and deform all important organs. It can affect the heart, brain, and complete viscera. In short, no organs and no part of the body is free from its onslaught. It can deform a beautiful/handsome individual into a horrifying wretch.

Body parts will be eaten away or fall off as a foul-smelling excretion. It can bring a shameful look and a painful death.

Excavations from ancient tombs illustrate that skulls have been eaten away at orifices and on surfaces. Bones from other parts of the body have been affected too. They were either eaten away or deformed, or both. These are classic cases because this disease was not understood then, so they hardly had any effective treatment method. At present, such cases are very rare, because we are better prepared to face Syphilis now than at that time.

How Syphilis was named

This disease was considered to be carried by foreign sailors and soldiers to the local prostitutes during their frequent sexual contacts. Before the term “Syphilis” was coined for this dreadful STD, it was known as the “The French Disease” in Germany, Italy, and Poland. Alternatively, the French used the characteristic spite to call it the  “Italian disease.” In fact, people use all their racial and political spite and named this disease after their enemies.

The Christian disease” and The Polish disease.” Some, in the medical community in the 16th century, called it the “Great Pox” to primarily differentiate it from Smallpox. But, just before that, in 1530, something happened that changed all these names forever.

An Italian physician-poet called Girolamo Fracastoro wrote a religious poem in Latin. This was called “Syphilis sive morbus gallicus” meaning “Syphilis or The French Disease.” The poem was written to prove that this disease came to humans as a punishment from the Gods, especially Apollo. The leading character of the poem was named Syphilus who was the first character to get the disease as a punishment from God Apollo.

Later on, he derived the name “Syphilis” from his poem and used in his new book “On Contagious Diseases.”

The Two Hypotheses about  its origin

The origin of Syphilis is yet to be established. There had been both efforts and denials to prove the exact source from where it originated.

Syphilis was present among the local people of America in the pre-Columbian era. There is no second opinion about that.  Anthropologists and historians agree upon this fact. However, it’s not very clear whether this disease was present elsewhere in the world.

The Europeans, at least some, strongly believe that it’s Christopher Columbus who brought the first virus to Europe. Basing on that perception there are at least two hypotheses regarding the origin of Syphilis.

1. The Columbian theory or hypothesis

This hypothesis is based upon the belief that Columbus and his crewmen brought the first virus to Europe and subsequently to the rest of the world. The timing of  Columbus’s voyages to the Americas helps in proving this theory because it occurred three years before the syphilis outbreak of 1494 at Naples.

Kristin Harper, a Health and Society Scholar at Columbia University, New York is at the forefront of this hypothesis. It’s an irony that somebody at the Columbia University holds Columbus responsible for bringing this dreadful disease to the world.

Molly K. Zuckerman and George Armelagos who hold similar views co-authored several reports with Harper. They contest the pre-Columbian hypothesis with the fact that the cases reported to be present in Europe before the arrival of Columbus in the Americas are not true cases of Syphilis.

2. The pre-Columbian theory or hypothesis

This hypothesis stands on the belief that Syphilis existed well before Christopher Columbus visited America, even centuries before he took birth.

This hypothesis holds ground on the finding of skeletal remains at certain excavation sites in Italy which shows bone degeneration similar to the effects of tertiary Syphilis. There’s another fact — Hippocrates, the classical Greek doctor, described the symptoms of tertiary Syphilis in its original form.

Anthropologists and historians claim that cases of leprosy in medieval Europe were wrongly diagnosed. They were actually cases of tertiary Syphilis.

Some famous people linked to syphilis:

Charles VIII of France
Adolf Hitler
Benito Mussolini
Friedrich Nietzsche
Vladimir Lenin
Henry VIII Al Capone
Artist Paul Gauguin
Artist Eduardo Manet
Russian author Leo Tolstoy

What is Herpes?

 

When people start searching for information on Herpes, they are scared, but they hardly know how troublesome it can be. There are many opinions about whether Herpes is innocuous or dangerous, but all agree on the fact that an infection such as Herpes simplex or genital herpes is quite bothersome. Once you are infected, it stays with you forever.

what is herpes

As per the official data, one individual in each four is infected with herpes. This seems alarming but it hardly says the complete range of suffering a patient undergoes. Chlamydia is considered to be most prevalent of all STDs, but Herpes, as well as HIV, compete closely with it.

What is Herpes?

Herpes is an STD. Well, that’s too common a fact, but it indicates one thing. The propagation or the infection occurs due to sexual contact. Sexual intercourse of any nature, whether anal, vaginal or oral in gay, lesbian or heterosexual individuals with an infected person can trigger an infection.

Clean and tidy sexual habit on your part when you have sex with an infected partner can save you for a couple of times but not for long. People say condoms can protect, but that’s a myth.

The body fluids from any orifice of an infected person carry the infecting agent, the virus. When your mucous membrane or open tissue comes in contact with these infected fluids the infection gets it into your system.

A viral infection is different from a bacterial infection. Some STDs, say gonorrhea and syphilis, come from bacterial infections. Their manifestation is quite different from that of STDs which come from viral infections. The bacterial STDs respond to normal antibiotic treatment and are considered curable. On the other hand, STDs that come from viral infections are mostly incurable and in most of the cases very obstinate.

Herpes manifests symptoms around oral mucous membranes, skin, and tongue. In some cases, the manifestations are on the skin. When the disease comes from sexual activities, it manifests symptoms around male and female genitals and popularly known as genital herpes. That’s not all. The virus also affects the nerves of its victim and as on date, it’s difficult to ascertain its complete neurological impact. The herpes virus is known as Herpes Simplex virus or HSV. It has 2.5 stains which are responsible for 2 herpes and a similar manifestation of herpes.

In the following paragraphs, you will find the details of each type of herpes.

What is Herpes Simplex?

You have seen cold sores. They are generally considered as a form of Herpes, Herpes Simplex or HSV-1. People are apt to associate cold sores with oral herpes, but that may not be the case always. Ulceration of mouth can come from many other reasons, even from gonorrhea and syphilis. It may also come from simple indispositions in health.

herpes simplex

Herpes simplex manifests after one is infected with HSV. The incubation is very short, maybe a week. It affects the mucous membranes inside the mouth and the skin around. The main seat is the place where skin meets the mucous membrane or where two types of skin tissue meet. These are places such as the lips, the corner of the mouth, and the upper and lower lip ridges.

This infection is considered a simple form of herpes but it keeps coming again and again. When there is stress on the body vitality, the virus attacks promptly. The symptoms manifest for a week or two then goes away altogether. This stage is considered the first stage of genital herpes, but it may never develop into HSV-2.

What is Genital Herpes?

This malady is popularly known as HSV-2 as the virus responsible for this infection is named so. This disease is complicated. When people say Herpes, they actually mean genital Herpes. Genital Herpes is a chronic condition. Chronicity, in medicine, means a condition for life, if not cured. In acute conditions, the disease subsides with or without medical treatment or it may kill the person infected, but when the disease is chronic it progresses very slowly and may or may not respond to the treatment. It stays with the patient till death or until cured.

Well, now back to genital Herpes.

This may initially manifest as HSV-1 and then progress to HSV-2, but the primary cause of infection is intimate sexual contact. If someone goes into oral sex with an infected person, he or she develops pronounced oral symptoms. After the first manifestation, the condition subsides as any other acute disease, but there are periodic relapses. The remission periods get longer and longer over time and each relapse decreases in intensity. This is a trend with all chronic diseases. This comes from the weakening of the body vitality either due to drug effect or the onslaught of the virus.

After the prodome, the virus mostly remains dormant except for the brief relapse, but the disease remains highly contagious. So, whether the host has blisters on genitals or not, he or she can always infect a sex partner. Genital Herpes is dreaded for its painful state. Other than that people don’t find it bothersome, but that’s a myth. If this remains untreated for a longer period, this may create a state where the patient may develop susceptibility to HIV.

What is Herpes Zoster?

This infection is the half stain I mentioned earlier. It comes from a virus which belongs to the subfamily Alphaherpesvirinae. This virus is quite similar but is not HSV. The same virus is the cause of Chickenpox in humans.

Herpes Zoster is the chronic condition of Chickenpox. After the first manifestation of its acute state, it subsides and stays latent for some time before it comes back as Zoster. This is also known as Shingles or Zona.

It’s the warning from the experts that, most infections come from unsuspecting donors. People who infect others are generally not aware that they are infected. It’s quite credible as infected people in most cases don’t suspect an infection because there are hardly any painful symptoms. Some people at the time of infection don’t experience clearly marked changes except some flu-like symptoms.

The only way to be sure whether you are clean of or infected by herpes is to get tested for Herpes. The symptoms may indicate a presence but it can’t confirm it, so before you can seek treatment you should get Herpes testing at a reliable FDA approved agency.