STD Testing
Tests For Sexually Transmitted Diseases

STDs

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STD Tests

Contents

What Is STD Testing?
What STD Tests Are Available?
Which Tests Do I Need?
What Is The Testing Procedure?
Can I Test For STDs At Home?
How Much Does STD Testing Cost?
Sample Test Result



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Sexually Transmitted Diseases
What Is STD Testing?

It is a set of tests you can have to screen for the presence of a sexually transmitted disease (STD). How often you test for a STD depends on your risk factors. For example, a woman in a mutually monogamous relationship is going to need screening less often than a woman who has multiple sexual partners (especially if she has not consistently used condoms). If you have STD symptoms, or simply want to screen for STDs, you can ask your doctor to perform the tests. Alternatively you can attend a STD clinic which specializes in testing and may afford more anonymity.

What STD Tests Are Available?

Your doctor or clinic can offer you the following tests:

HIV Virus
Most clinics test for HIV with a blood test - most commonly the HIV Antibody Test with Reflex to Western Blot Confirmation (also known as the EIA or ELISA test).
Chlamydia
This is a urine test. Simply urinate into a cup and the sample is sent to a lab for testing. Alternatively a swab of sample cells is taken from the vagina for analysis. Most clinics choose to perform a urine test as it is less invasive. No fasting is necessary for this test.
Herpes (Herpes 1 and 2)
You may be offered a blood test that looks for antibodies signaling the presence of the herpes virus. This test can also differentiate between the type of virus present (HSV-1 and HSV-2).
Gonorrhea
Most clinics perform the NAAT test (nucleic acid amplification test). This FDA-approved test requires a urine sample and checks for the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria. No fasting is necessary beforehand.
Syphilis
There are more than 200 types of blood tests for syphilis, you may be offered for example the Rapid Plasma Reagin (RPR) blood test which is quite common. A small tube of blood will be taken and sent to a lab for testing.

Hepatitis B
This is a blood test - one common test is called the Hepatitis B Surface Antigen (HBsAg). A technician will draw a small tube of blood from your arm and send it to the lab. It will be checked for the hepatitis B virus. No fasting is necessary beforehand.
Hepatitis C
This is a blood test, a technician will draw a small tube of blood from your arm. The Hepatitis C Antibody Test (Anti-HVC) which checks for hepatitis C virus is one such test. No fasting is necessary beforehand.

Other STDs

Genital warts, scabies or pubic lice require a physical examination - there is no screening. People who are infected only know so because they develop symptoms. They usually turn up at their doctors for diagnosis and treatment.
HPV Virus
Most women only discover they have the HPV virus when a Pap smear test result shows abnormalities. Regular Pap tests are recommended for this reason (and to prevent cervical cancer). If abnormalities are detected, your doctor may perform a DNA HPV test to detect if those changes are related to the HPV virus. This test will also tell the doctor what type of HPV you have.

Which Tests Do I Need?

The CDC estimates that there are about 19 million new STD infections each year — almost 50 percent occur in young people aged 15 to 24. Yet, as most STDs have no symptoms and go undiagnosed and treated, the only way to know your status is to be tested. Most clinics will offer you the opportunity to purchase one test, several tests or the complete package of 8 tests. If you are not sure which tests are right for you, a clinician will discuss your risk factors and provide a recommendation. Alternatively most clinics have online questionnaires which you can complete. At the end of the question session, you will automatically be given a list of recommended tests, based on the CDC's current guidelines for female screenings.

What Is The Testing Procedure?

Most clinics will allow you to test for all 8 major STDs in one session. Once all the tests are performed, the results will be posted to you or become available via an encrypted online portal or phone within 1 to 5 working days. You can normally pay more to speed up the process. If you test positive for chlamydia, gonorrhea or herpes, the in-house doctors in your clinic can prescribe treatment. Other STDs require more specialized care.

Can I Test For STDs At Home?

Yes, but only for certain conditions that do not require a blood test. You can buy home testing kits in most clinics for:

• Chlamydia
• Gonorrhea
Trichomoniasis
• HIV Virus (this involves a swab test rather than a blood sample).

You will receive an unmarked package in the post containing the tests. Once you complete the tests you post them back to clinic and wait for your results. When testing at home it is important to know the window period for STDs. That is, the time between exposure and when the test can accurately pick up the presence of disease. This varies from one STD to another. As a general the window periods for chlamydia, gonorrhea and trichomoniasis are about 3 to 7 days. HIV is 3 to 6 months although some clinics are offering early detection tests (HIV-1 Early Detection Test) which is DNA or RNA based. It can detect HIV within 2 to 8 weeks of exposure. Early detection kits are blood tests and not available for home testing.

How Much Does STD Testing Cost?

If you plan on taking the complete package (8 tests) expect to pay between $250 and $350. This is better value usually than just ordering one test which can average $100 each.

Sample Test Result

Name Of Client: Harriet Smith

Test Value Range Result Test Date Result Date
Gonorrhea Negative Negative Negative 02/09/2012 05/09/2012
Chlamydia Negative Negative Negative 02/09/2012 05/09/2012
Herpes Type 1 2.49 0.00-0.90 Positive 02/09/2012 05/09/2012
Herpes Type 2 <0.91 0.00-0.90 Negative 02/09/2012 05/09/2012
Hepatitis B Negative Negative Negative 02/09/2012 05/09/2012
Hepatitis C 0.1 0.0-0.9 Negative 02/09/2012 05/09/2012
HIV-1 Antibody <1.00 <1.00 Negative 02/09/2012 05/09/2012
Syphilis Non Reactive Non Reactive Negative 02/09/2012 05/09/2012

Note: Harriet tested positive for type 1 herpes (the type associated with cold sores, not genital herpes) and is clear of all other STDs. Non-reactive means the same as negative.

  Related Articles on STDs

For more recommended advice, see the following:

STD Prevention: Advise on safer sex.
Latest health statistics: How long are you likely to live?

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WOMENS HEALTH ADVICE: ABOUT SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES
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