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Q. Should I go for treponemal test three years after sexual contact?

Answered by
Dr. Kakkar
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Mar 11, 2018

Hi doctor,

I have an STD question and hope to have an STD specialist doctor to assist me. I had a sexual contact three years ago and only last month I went for (VDRL nontreponemal test) and is negative. I have read online that after several years or after sometime usually, the result can be negative even if a person had syphilis before. I am afraid it might be a false negative since it was a few years ago. May I know should I test for Treponemal test such as TPPA or FTA-ABS to rule out the false negative by VDRL after three years test, I worry it might false negative by VDRL? The negative VDRL test was one month ago and possible exposure was three years ago. Does this mean the person does not have active syphilis infection? Does this also mean it would not proceed to latent or tertiary syphilis that will damage the body such as paralysis, numbness, gradual blindness and dementia?

Dr. Kakkar

Dermatology HIV/AIDS Specialist Venereology


Welcome to

Yes, sometimes many years after an infection with Treponema pallidum, VDRL may turn negative. TPHA (Treponema pallidum hemagglutination) or FTA ABS (fluorescent treponemal antibody absorption test) would be confirmatory in that case. You may take this test.

Syphilis may slowly progress to the tertiary stage with neurological involvement. CSF VDRL is more diagnostic rather than serum VDRL in case of neurological involvement.

Was the sexual act three years ago, protected or unprotected? You did not mention that.


For more information consult a venereologist online -->

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