Statement from Assistant Secretary for Health Levine on Point of Care Testing for Syphilis

Content From: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services NewsroomPublished: June 12, 20242 min read



Cross-posted from: HHS Newsroom

Over the past decade, syphilis rates and case numbers in the U.S. have increased across all populations. In response to this surge in syphilis cases, HHS formed the National Syphilis and Congenital Syphilis Syndemic Federal Task Force led by HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Rachel Levine.

Today, this task force issued new considerations for health care providers who test patients for syphilis. The new HHS document “Considerations for the Implementation of Point of Care Tests for Syphilis (PDF, 493KB),” outlines four main differences between syphilis point of care tests and laboratory-based serologic syphilis tests and highlights the best settings to consider use of point-of-care tests. It also examines parameters for point of care testing program implementation and management, provides answers to common questions, and lists links to related resources.

“Syphilis testing is crucial, as syphilis infections can be difficult to diagnose because many of those infected may not have symptoms,” said Admiral Rachel L. Levine, MD, Assistant Secretary for Health. “The Food and Drug Administration has authorized two point-of-care tests for syphilis that can provide rapid test results during the same visit in about 15 minutes. This can help overcome barriers in our ability to timely diagnose patients in communities across the nation.”

Syphilis is curable but has re-emerged as a global public health threat. Since 2012, congenital syphilis cases have surged in the United States. If untreated, syphilis can seriously damage the heart and brain and can cause blindness, deafness, and paralysis. When transmitted during pregnancy, it can cause miscarriage, lifelong medical issues, and infant death.

Read the new resource Considerations for the Implementation of Point of Care Tests for Syphilis (PDF, 493KB) and sign up for the Stopping Syphilis: The HHS Summer Seminar SeriesExit Disclaimer