Syphilis can usually be detected with our laboratory assays around one month post-exposure, but may be up to three months. A false-negative result from a syphilis test may occur within the first three months and retesting will be required.
Sexual transmission of T. pallidum is thought to occur only when syphilitic lesions (chancres) are present. These are uncommon after the first year of infection.
According to the CDC, anybody exposed sexually to a person who has primary, secondary, or early latent syphilis (when syphilis is contagious) should be evaluated and treated according to the following recommendations:
- Sexual contact within 90 days should be treated presumptively for early syphilis, even if serologic (antibody) test results are negative.
- Sexual contact greater than 90 days ago should be treated presumptively for early syphilis if serologic test results are not immediately available.
- If serologic tests are negative, no treatment is needed.
- If serologic tests are positive, treatment should be based on clinical and serologic evaluation and stage of syphilis