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VDRL Test, Singapore - Shim Clinic

VDRL stands for Venereal Disease Research Laboratory and is a popular STD testing method using blood to test whether a patient has an active syphilis infection. The VDRL test is nontreponemal and is a preferred method because it is simple, sensitive and relatively low cost. Harris, Rosenberg, and Riedel are the scientists who developed the VDRL test in 1946.

Syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease (STD), is caused by Treponema pallidum bacteria. This bacteria penetrates into the victim’s lining of the genital area or mouth. The VDRL test is great because it can be used whether the patient is showing any symptoms or not.

What Can VDRL Test For?

Testing for Syphilis: VDRL is mainly used to test for syphilis by looking for antibodies to cardiolipin, a non-syphilis specific protein. The VDRL test is also useful for detecting new syphilis infections as well as to observe the course of syphilis treatment.

Screening for Syphilis in Pregnant Women: VDRL is used to screen pregnant women for syphilis during their first prenatal visit, third trimester and during delivery.

Diagnosing Congenital Syphilis: VDRL test is helps in diagnosing congenital syphilis. Antibodies transferred passively through the placenta may produce a false reactive test in the infant’s serum. This necessitates a repeat test using the VDRL test to rule out congenital syphilis in an infant.

A doctor may order a VDRL syphilis test when a person has the following signs and symptoms:

  • A sore on the genital area or throat
  • A recurring rough, red and spotted skin rash on the palms and bottoms of the feet
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen glands
  • Sore throat
  • Body aches

How Is The VDRL Test Administered?

The VDRL test is easy to administer and involves drawing blood from a vein at the back of the patient’s hand or the elbow crease. The blood sample drawn is then sent to a laboratory and tested for cardiolipin antibodies produced because of the presence of syphilis in the body.

How The Test Will Feel

The test is not painful. The patient will only feel a slight prick on the skin when the needle is injected to draw blood.

Accuracy, Disclaimer and other Important Information of VDRL Test

It’s important to note that the VDRL test will not always be accurate and can sometimes produce false-negative results. False-negative results normally occur if the patient has had the STD for less than three months. This is because the body sometimes takes more than three months to produce antibodies. False-negative results may also be seen in cases where the syphilis is in the late stage.

Risks Of The VDRL Test

The test does not have major risks as the blood draw is quite safe. The patient might experience a few side effects such as minor bruising or bleeding after the blood draw. Other VERY rare side effects from the blood draw include infection or inflammation of the vein.

Even though syphilis is treatable, it’s vital that a patient consults a doctor as soon as they suspect they might be suffering from the STD. Untreated syphilis can cause adverse organ complications. If you’d like to know more about the VDRL test, please don’t hesitate to contact the Shim STD Clinic, we’ll be glad to assist you.


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Related Concepts

Sexual risk (of HIV/STD/pregnancy), and what you can do before and after exposure.

Timeline HIV STD Pregnancy
Before exposure
Abstain from sex, Be faithful, or Condom use
Circumcision (males only)
Contraception
(females only)
HIV PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis)
– Stop HIV infection before exposure
STD vaccine:
Hepatitis vaccine
HPV vaccine
STD / HIV exposure
Unsafe sex / unprotected sex:
No condom / Condom broke / Condom slip
0-72 hours HIV PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis)
– Stop HIV infection after exposure
STD testing *
Screening test
– to look for asymptomatic infections
– from previous exposures
Emergency contraception
with the
morning-after pill
(females only)
2 weeks HIV DNA Test
1 month HIV 4th Generation Test
SD Bioline HIV Ag/Ab Combo
– Fingerprick blood sampling.
20 minutes to results
3 months HIV 3rd Generation Test
OraQuick® HIV-1/2 Antibody
– Oral fluid or
– Fingerprick blood sampling.
20 minutes to results
STD testing *
– Full & comprehensive
diagnostic test
– to look for current infections
Watch for HIV Symptoms STD Symptoms
If infected HIV Treatment STD Treatment Abortion

* Males: Do not urinate for at least 4 hours before arriving.
* Females: testing is more accurate when you are not menstruating.


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