It is not uncommon to have sexually transmitted diseases. However, the difference in risk factors determines the type of STD testing that should be sought. Read on to know what type of testing you need.
For those who have attained the age of sexual activity and are bold enough to have more than one partner, the usual advice has been to have protected sex and undergo screening.
Why is this so critical? You may be infected and oblivious of it. Most cases of STDs do not present any symptoms, which is why most professionals choose to call it sexually transmitted infections – you may be diagnosed with an infection without showing any sign of the disease.
Now that the possibility of STDs has been established, the question is: “what type of screening should you have and how many times do you need this screening?”. This question can be answered by considering your age, sexual behavior, and other risk factors.
A Pap test or gynecologic exam does not pass for an STI screening – kindly avoid this assumption. If you feel up for an STD test, speak with your doctor to have one. Tell them about your concerns and the tests you should take.
Specific STI screening
Here is a guide that will help you test for specific STIs.
Gonorrhea and chlamydia
Should you fulfill the following conditions, National guidelines advise a yearly screening:
- You are a sexually active woman below 25 years.
- Women who are above 25 years and stand a chance of having STI, like having sex with someone you just met or several partners.
- When a man sleeping with other men.
- HIV-infected person.
- In case have engaged in sexual activity under compulsion.
Screening for gonorrhea and chlamydia is done by taking a sample of urine or swab from the cervix (as in the case of women) or the penis (as in the case of men). Analysis of this sample is done in the laboratory. You need to be screened because if you are asymptomatic without symptoms, you won’t know whether you’ve contracted any of the infections.
Hepatitis, syphilis, and HIV
For those born between 1945 and 1965, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends testing for hepatitis C. This is because those within this age group do have many hepatitis C cases, plus the disease presents zero symptoms until it progresses into a late stage. You can take vaccines for hepatitis A and B if your test results reveal zero exposure to these viral infections.
Should you be an adolescent or adult aged between 13 to 64 years, it is recommended by the CDC that you get screened for HIV a minimum of once during your routine medical care. Younger teenagers should be screened to know whether their risk for STI is high. For those whose chances of being infected are high, the CDC recommends a yearly HIV screening.
Following National guidelines, if you need to get screening for syphilis, hepatitis, and HIV, you should:
- Be diagnosed with another STI that exposes you more to other STIs
- Have been with several partners, or your partner has had several partners following your previous screening
- Use intravenous drugs
- Be pregnant or getting ready to be pregnant
- Be a man sleeping with other men
- Have engaged in sexual activity under compulsion
Syphilis presents itself with sores in the genitals. The doctor will take a swab either from these sores or from a blood sample to test for this. For HIV and hepatitis screening, a blood sample is needed. These samples are taken to the laboratory for analysis.
A virus causes this infection. Moreover, there is no accurate screening for this infection. Many herpes-infected persons do not show any signs or symptoms yet pass it on to other people. For lab analysis, the doctor may take a culture of blisters or tissue scraping should you have any. That you test negative for herpes does not mean it is not responsible for genital ulcerations.
With a blood test, a past infection from herpes can be identified; however, the outcome is not precise all the time. Certain blood tests can show the difference between the two primary types of herpes.
Type 1 herpes is typically responsible for cold sores, but it can trigger genital sores as well. Type 2 is what causes genital sores more. Despite this, the test result may not be completely clear. It comes down to how sensitive the test is and the stage of the infection. It is possible to have false-negative and false-positive results.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
Some strains of HPV can trigger cervical cancer, while other strains can bring about genital warts. At some point in life, most persons who are sexually active contract HPV but remain asymptomatic (without symptoms). Usually, this virus is lost in a period of 24 months.
There is no regular testing when screening men for HPV – screening is done via physical exam or biopsy of genital warts. Testing for HPV in women has to do with:
- Pap test: This test is done in the cervix to identify cells that are not normal. For women between 21 to 64, a Pap test is recommended every 3 years.
- HPV test: For women above 30 years, the HPV test may be done together with the Pap test every 5 years should the result of the past test be normal. Women with abnormal Pap test results aged between 21 and 30 years will receive an HPV test.
It has been established that HPV is associated with cancer of the mouth, anus, throat, penis, vagina, and vulva. Against certain strains of HPV are vaccines that men and women can take. However, these vaccines are at their best if taken before engaging in sex. You can have a private STD test London.
STI screening at home
More and more persons have started accepting screening for some STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV at home. STI testing done at home involves taking a sample of urine or a genital or an oral swab and sending the same for analysis at the lab.
For some types of tests, more than one sample may be needed. Privacy is one advantage of at-home testing; the hassle of an office visit or pelvic exam is removed.
The disadvantage of at-home STI testing is that samples after analysis may produce false-positive results – this implies you have the infection, but in reality, you do not.
Should the result of your at-home screening come out as positive, do a confirmation test at your doctor’s or a clinic? Should the result of your at-home screening come out as negative, yet you have symptoms, do not hesitate to do a confirmation test at your doctor’s or a clinic.
When test results are positive
Should your result from an STI screening be positive, go get tested further and get treated following a doctor’s recommendation. Do your sexual partners a ton of good by informing them. It will prevent the recurrence of these infections as your partners will get tested for confirmation.
It is not uncommon for you to feel angry, devastated, scared, or ashamed. But take solace in the fact that getting tested and, most importantly, treated is indeed a good you’ve done for yourself and your partners. Feel free to talk with our private doctor about your concerns at PrivateGPs.London today.