Vol. 2 No. 11 (2022)
Horizon Scans

Rapid Syphilis Testing

Published November 2, 2022

Key Messages

  • This Horizon Scan summarizes available information regarding rapid point-of-care testing for the detection of Treponema pallidum, the bacteria that causes syphilis.
  • Rapid point-of-care testing to screen people for a possible case of syphilis allows health care providers to screen people where they are, rather than relying on people’s access to traditional health care settings. The rapid provision of test results can also help to guide treatment in the moment, rather than requiring additional appointments that could increase the number of people with active syphilis infections lost to follow-up.
  • There are currently no point-of-care syphilis tests licensed for use by Health Canada; however, at least 1 multiplex syphilis and HIV-1/HIV-2 detection test could be licensed for use in Canada by the end of 2022.
  • Based on the evidence reviewed, rapid tests for the detection of syphilis appear to be adequately sensitive and specific for screening. The use of point-of-care testing, at-home self-testing, at-home sample collection methods, and telemedicine and virtual care options may be interventions to consider as health care systems move forward and work to catch up on the screening backlog and missed tests related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and also find ways to connect with people who have previously been harder to reach.