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A. Schuyler, NP
A. Schuyler, NP, Nurse Practitioner
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 16310
Experience:  Board Certified NP, MS, RN. 25 years private practice & hospitalist
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My brother was recently released from Prison, 4 years ago

Resolved Question:

my brother was recently released from Prison, 4 years ago while incarcerated he was sexually assaulted and now believes he has syphilis. He was tested while in prison and has been tested since being released a month ago all 3-4 of the tests came back as negative. He feels that this is a mis-diagnosis what other options does he have
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  A. Schuyler, NP replied 9 years ago.


Welcome to Just Answer and thanks for the question. No doubt this was a traumatic event for your brother, but if 3-4 tests have all been negative, he doesn't have syphilis and hasn't been misdiagnosed. Syphilis tests are far more likely to give a false positive report than a false negative one. He needs to contact a mental health professional about his post traumatic stress disorder.

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Reply to Schuyler_ANP's Post: I understand what you are you are saying however he refuses to accept any other explanation. He does see a mental health professional, he is also schizophrenic. I have done the research and now so has he but he is convinced that his symptoms are directly related to syphilis. He says his symptoms are hair loss (head, facial, pubic, axillary etc.) runny nose, open sores, nausea he also has complained of having sudden numbness and weakness
Expert:  A. Schuyler, NP replied 9 years ago.

Those symptoms can come from a variety of things from alopecia areata (an autoimmune disorder that leads to loss of all body hair) to a common cold. The bot***** *****ne is that his beliefs are irrational and dictated by his mental illness (schizophrenia) and stress. It is difficult to reason with people who will not hear the truth. I know you are terribly concerned. i would be too if it were my brother, but other than prodding him gently in the right direction, you can't really be responsible for what he thinks and does. It is always heartbreaking for the families.

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
I don't think he has syphilis but he does. What I need to know is how I can either find another test that would be more accurate, as he has now discovered false negative responses can occur and finds that relevant to his case, or find an actual person that he can talk to who can explain the diagnosis and answer his many questions. People either talk down to him because he has a mental illness or because he was in prison. He becomes intimidated and doesn't get his questions answered. I've been looking up numbers for hotlines and he calls them only to be told that they have no answers for him as he's already been tested. He's now looking into other similar conditions such as Chancroid. I understand the medical side of this I don't know how o help him find the answers he needs
Expert:  A. Schuyler, NP replied 9 years ago.

It is only in the earliest stages of the disease that you get a false negative with a syphilis test (the first couple of months after exposure). If he was raped 4 years ago, and today has a negative test, that means that he doesn't have syphilis currently and has never been exposed to syphilis because he has no antibodies to it. Even if it were syphilis, it is curable with an injection of Benzathine penicillin G once a week for 3 weeks. The problem is that no doctor is likely to order shots for someone who doesn't have the disease in the first place.

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Right, it's unlikely that a doctor will prescribe medication for something that does not exist. Are there other sources he can use to get information? I explained that false negatives would only present within small range of time from the initial infection. What are the best places for him to call or go to to get information? Where can he find someone willing to take time to make sure he understands the diagnosis? What resources are out there for situations like this?