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March 25, 1974

Serological Tests for Syphilis in Rape Cases

Author Affiliations


JAMA. 1974;227(12):1381. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230250013008

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To the Editor.—  In a recent issue (226:1577, 1973), Dr. Haymann comments on emergency department protocol for the management of rape cases. He advises that a serological test for syphilis be done at that time. Another consultant, Dr. Garcia, advises that management include "prevention of venereal disease."If the patient appears at the emergency department within hours of the alleged rape, a serological test for syphilis would be useless, as the assay is dependent upon the systemic response of the individual's immune system. This may not be manifest for up to several weeks. Immediate serological tests can further complicate the situation in the event of biological false-positive reactions.An efficient follow-up at monthly intervals including serological testing might be more informative for the physician and more beneficial to the patient.