This test is used to screen for and diagnose infection with Treponema pallidum, the bacterium that causes syphilis. Syphilis is an infectious disease that is most often spread by sexual contact, such as through direct contact with a syphilis sore (chancre). It is easily treated but can cause severe health problems if left untreated. An infected mother can also pass the disease to her fetus, with serious and potentially fatal consequences for the baby.
A doctor may order the test:
1. If you have symptoms, such as a chancre on the genitals or throat;
2. If you are being treated for another sexually transmitted disease, such as gonorrhea;
3. If you are pregnant, because untreated syphilis can infect and even kill a developing fetus; or
4. If you complain of non-specific symptoms that resemble those of syphilis, to determine the exact cause of your illness.
Special Preparation: You are instructed to wait one to two hours after you last urinated before collecting the urine sample.