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Possible False Positive Syphillis Test Result

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Hi everyone, this is a weird one and a little embarrassing, but after having a massive number of tests over the last couple of years and continually having appointments at one department or another in the hospital (all typical of ME/CFS) I realised that one area I hadn’t covered were viruses/bacteria related to sexual health.

With this in mind, my partner and I went to our local sexual health clinic to get tested (we’ve been in a monogamous relationship for 10 years and I had all of my tests either just before we got together or just after from what I can remember).

Everything came back fine apart from the Syphillis test which showed a low level of antibodies. Weirdly, my partners test came back negative.

The doctor said that this can indicate either having had it in the past and having had treatment for it or due to being in the tertiary stage (which is very worrying).

To be sure they retested and this came back with the same result. As I have never tested positive in the past for this they are treating as tertiary Syphillis with a 4 week course of antibiotics (couldn’t have the preferred 3 x once weekly penicillin injections because of Christmas).

Where it gets weird like I said before is that, if this was the case, I’m unsure why my partner has no antibodies when I’d potentially have been in the early secondary stage when we met.

One of the nurses I spoke to also found this strange along with having had no symptoms in the supposed early stage of the illness and having tested negative for it in the past.

From further research I found that it is a Spirochete bacteria which is the same as Lyme disease causing bacteria Borrelia and that having the Lyme disease causing bacteria in your system can cause a false positive on the Syphillis antibody test.

Annoyingly, I’ve not been tested for Lyme disease but I did have some sort of very bad virus in 2010 that seems to have kickstarted all this whilst I was training for a half marathon and running in the local countryside all the time as part of the training.

My next course of action will be to persuade my GP to test for Lyme disease (also considering the more reliable private tests) but I’m just wanting to see if anyone has any knowledge in this area or an opinion on this subject?

On top of all of this at the moment, the mental health team are trying to pin the label of undiagnosed ADHD on me and have referred me to a Psychiatrist, but that’s another story... :lol::lol::lol:
 
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When I first became sick my doctors suspected I had lupus, which has certain symptoms that overlap with ME/CFS. The rheumatologist I saw tested me for syphilis because he said that some people with lupus have a false positive--I think it's because the antibodies produced are similar. So it might also be worth asking your doctor about the possibility of lupus.

Given that syphilis tests are sensitive to certain kinds of antibodies, I wonder if people with ME/CFS would be likely more likely to have a false positive result. I don't know if this is has ever been researched.
 
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A long time ago (1990s?) one of the ME/CFS clinicians in the US (Cheney?) mentioned that some patients had false positives to the syphilis test.
That’s interesting to hear, read about the connection to Lyme, but didn’t know about false positives for some patients with ME/CFS. Wonder if that’s because of Lyme again?
 
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When I first became sick my doctors suspected I had lupus, which has certain symptoms that overlap with ME/CFS. The rheumatologist I saw tested me for syphilis because he said that some people with lupus have a false positive--I think it's because the antibodies produced are similar. So it might also be worth asking your doctor about the possibility of lupus.

Given that syphilis tests are sensitive to certain kinds of antibodies, I wonder if people with ME/CFS would be likely more likely to have a false positive result. I don't know if this is has ever been researched.
That’s another interesting link I didn’t know about, will have a look into that and mention it to my GP when I’m next in.

It just seems unlikely that it’s Syphillis as I’ve never had any of the early stage symptoms and the nurse did think it was very unusual that my partner had no antibodies present.

I read that if you get a positive at a low antibody level they should do a different test that checks for the actual bacteria but they didn’t do that, just another antibody test. I’ll have to see if I can get the other test privately.
 

Hip

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My next course of action will be to persuade my GP to test for Lyme disease (also considering the more reliable private tests)
Private tests are not necessarily more reliable, as they can give false positives also. ArminLabs for example have a high false positive rate (see here).
 
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Private tests are not necessarily more reliable, as they can give false positives also. ArminLabs for example have a high false positive rate (see here).
Ah I see, that’s a pain. I thought I’d heard there was a test that was more reliable that you could get (I want to say a German test?)
 

Hip

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Ah I see, that’s a pain. I thought I’d heard there was a test that was more reliable that you could get (I want to say a German test?)
Yes, ArminLabs is the German test that people talk about. Phones4U billionaire John Caudwell got his whole family tested for Lyme at ArminLabs, and found 11 members were positive. But what are the chances of that, given that Lyme is not contagious by normal social contact. One person might pick up Lyme say walking in the countryside, via a tick bite. But not the entire family. Caudwell is now aware of the false positive issues of ArminLabs, but he was not initially.

There is concern that standards tests (those recommended by the CDC or the UK NHS) may miss some cases (give false negatives), so this is why ArminLabs stepped in; but ArminLabs have the opposite problem of over-diagnosing (lots of false positives).
 
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That’s really interesting and yes that does sound highly unlikely :lol: I’ll stick with the NHS test then and see what comes up. Thanks for the info, mich appreciated!
 

Judee

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I think Dr Garth Nicolson talked about people who were exposed to some types of mycoplasma infections coming up false positive on HIV. Someone I know personally said his wife's blood test was flagged that way when she tried to donate blood. She went to her doctor in a panic but he retested her and said she is fine; that that happens with some people and that she doesn't have HIV.

I don't know anything else about her situation but just thought I'd mention this. Maybe that's what is happening in your case.