The rapid plasma reagin (RPR) is a test used to screen for syphilis. The RPR test measures IgM and IgG antibodies to lipoidal material released from damaged host cells as well as to lipoprotein-like material, and possibly cardiolipin released from the treponemes. The antilipoidal antibodies are antibodies that are produced not only as a consequence of syphilis and other treponemal diseases, but also in response to nontreponemal diseases of an acute and chronic nature in which tissue damage occurs.
A normal RPR blood sample shows no antibodies to syphilis. However, your doctor cannot completely rule out syphilis if they see no antibodies.
If your result is negative, your doctor may ask you to wait a few weeks and then return for another test if you are at a higher risk for syphilis. This is because of the RPR test’s potential for a false negative.
If your result is positive, due to the risk of false-positive results, your doctor will confirm the presence of syphilis with a second test, one that is specific for antibodies against the bacterium that causes syphilis, before starting your treatment. One such test is called the fluorescent treponemal antibody-absorption (FTA-ABS) test.
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