A rapid plasma reagin (RPR) blood test is a type of blood test that is specifically used to test for the sexually transmitted disease: Syphilis. An RPR test can also simply be called a “syphilis screening test.”
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Syphilis is a bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. The body develops antibodies to fight the bacteria about 3-6 weeks after exposure to syphilis. A rapid plasma reagin test measures the concentration of these antibodies, which is also known as a titer. If an RPR blood test detects a high number of syphilis antibodies, it usually indicates a positive result.
Not allowing the body time to develop the antibodies could result in a false negative, which is why it is important to wait at least a month after exposure to get tested. To ensure the infection is entirely cured, it’s recommended to be retested 3 months after treatment.
Syphilis is a potentially dangerous STD with multiple stages of increasingly severe symptoms. The first stage is known for causing small, painless sores called chancres. These are the only indication of having contracted syphilis, making the STD easy to miss. If missed or ignored, syphilis can eventually progress until it reaches its final stage. The final, or “tertiary stage,” of syphilis takes decades to develop, but can eventually cause damage to the central nervous system and internal organs, even going so far as, although rare, to result in death. To learn more about syphilis, click here.
Testing for syphilis is by far the most common reason to have an RPR test performed, but there are a few other reasons to have the test performed:
An RPR blood test requires a small amount of blood to be taken from a simple type of blood test called a venipuncture. This is quickly done at a lab or doctor’s office, and does not require any additional steps to be taken outside of being present. Once your blood is drawn, it will be examined for any signs of syphilis. A negative (also known as nonreactive) result means that syphilis has not been detected in the body, while a positive RPR test result indicates a syphilis infection.
Testing with STDcheck.com only takes a few minutes, and the results come back in 1-2 days. If you believe you need an RPR test performed to check for syphilis, it’s easy as ordering a test and then going to your local lab.