[Question #425] False negative RPR

34 months ago
I have recently read online about syphilis and have become worried.  6 years ago my husband had a whitehead appear on his penis glan. He popped it and little pus came out. It scabbed and healed in less than a week.  After reading about syphilis I recalled this incident , and had a RPR done which was non reactive. My question is could this be false negative rpr 6-7 years later? Should I be worried?
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
34 months ago

Welcome to the Forum.  I'll be pleased to help.  You do not provide any background as to whether or not there is a reason to worry that your husband might have had syphilis but from what you have said, I think it is unlikely that the lesion he experienced was syphilis or that you have the infection.  Although syphilis can present in a wide variety of ways, whitehead-type penile lesions are not typical and there are a number of other benign dermatological conditions that could cause such lesions.  In addition, if you had untreated syphilis, your RPR would almost certainly have been positive.  Further, just as an FYI, if you have donated blood or been pregnant in the interval since you noted the pimple you describe, you would have been tested for syphilis at that time.

My advice- believe your test results and don't worry that the lesion you noted six years ago was syphilis.  I hope my comments are helpful to you.  EWH

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34 months ago
I was not tested until recently. If I did have it Would it still have been positive after 6-7 years? I've read about false negatives after a period of time. We have never had any symptoms.  
34 months ago
Dr.Hook,  I really appreciate your response and advice in this situation. Please let me know if after 7 years is the RPR still accurate?
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
34 months ago
Yes, as I said in my original response, if you acquired syphilis seven years ago and were not treated, your RPR would still be positive.  Your negative test assures you that you do not have syphilis.  EWH---