THE BASICS OF STI TEST

THE BASICS OF STI TEST

Sexually Transmitted Infections, STIs for the most part can be dreadful. Added to this is the stigma and self-consciousness an infected person can experience. Even though anyone, just anyone could get infected, these unhealthy feelings can deter someone from doing an STI test.

But what really happens during an STI test? What's it all about? We'll find out soon.

Fast Facts About STIs

  • STI in itself is just a health issue
  • STIs are common, but they can be cured, or symptoms can be managed
  • STIs cannot be contracted by casual contact like shaking hands, hugging or using toilet seats
  • STI can be gotten from the exchange of sexual fluids and in some cases, from skin to skin contact.

Getting an STI test can help you practice safer sex. You can get tested at a private STI clinic.

Emphasising on the need for using protection like condoms, gloves, and dental dams can help reduce the spread of STI.

When making that move to get an STI test, there are questions you might have concerning your expectations during an appointment, such as:

WHEN IS IT RIGHT TO GET TESTED?

  • If you're experiencing any symptoms
  • If you have been exposed to infection
  • If you are not sure that your sexual partner has an STI

SO, HOW OFTEN SHOULD THIS TEST BE DONE?

It actually depends on you; it's a personal choice. This depends largely on your lifestyle. Most people do it once or twice yearly when they change partners. Others may do it every few years if they are still seeing the same person. You can do it at a private STI clinic. Before that, consulting a doctor to know what is best for you is good.

Bear in mind that 'Window Periods' are real. A Window Period is the time it takes for an infected person to show signs of infection, from the time they first contracted it.

Different STIs have different window periods.

For gonorrhoea and chlamydia, it is 24 hours. HIV or syphilis has a window period of 3 months. So,  if you think you've contracted syphilis, wait until three months to get tested. Herpes or genital warts only show up when there's an outbreak.

WHERE CAN I GET TESTED?

Your sexual healthcare provider may assist you with where you can do an STI test. However, you can have it at a private STI clinic, community health centres, sexual health clinics or with your family doctor.

If you prefer getting tested in places that are non-judgemental or anonymous, you can try a private STI clinic. Many sexual health clinics can also provide this.

HOW EXACTLY IS IT DONE?

During the diagnosis, you will be seated in the exam room and asked questions about:

  • Your medical history
  • Your sex life including the kind of sex you're having and if you use protection like condoms

These questions are used to evaluate your risks and level of exposure. For instance, if you don't use intravenous drugs, your chances for syphilis are slim. Hence, you may not require a blood test.

After assessing all your risks, the doctor will then know the right test for you. It could be a swab test, urine test, or even a blood test. Sometimes, a physical exam would be required.

It is important that you be honest with your healthcare provider. The essence of being open is to get the best possible testing and treatment. Perhaps, you are not comfortable with your family doctor; you can do it at a private STI clinic. At the STI clinic, your case is treated as confidential.

SINCE IT INVOLVES TESTS, WHAT KIND OF TESTS THEN?

Blood Tests

With a sample of your blood taken, you will be tested for:

  • HIV and syphilis - this can be done three months after exposure to get an accurate result
  • HIV/AIDS - you can do a rapid HIV screening and get the results within minutes. A regular blood test can also be done, though the result may take 24 hours to 2 weeks to be out.
  • Syphilis - this will require a regular blood test. You would get the results two weeks after the test.

Swab Tests

This involves rubbing a soft swab on mucosal surfaces like the anus, throat, vagina, or sore to get a sample. Swab tests are common for anal or oral chlamydia/gonorrhoea. It can also be done when the urine test is inconclusive.

Sometimes, swab tests are done on herpes sore as a need for further testing.

Urine Tests

Your urine sample can be taken to test for:

  • Chlamydia and gonorrhoea - performed 24 hours after exposure.
  • Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) or yeast infection which are not contracted via sex but do have similar symptoms like chlamydia and gonorrhoea.

Physical Exams

Your body can be physically examined sometimes to diagnose herpes and Human Papillomavirus, HPV. This is when you have warts or sores present.

All these tests can be conveniently carried out at the private STI clinic.

Please note that when you demand to get tested for 'everything', it is understood to mean urine tests,  because urine sample can detect some of the most common STIs. However, if you need to be tested for specific STIs, you have the right to ask for it.

WHEN WILL THE TEST RESULT BE OUT?

Well, it depends on the clinic where you performed the tests. Blood tests can take about two weeks to be ready. Swab and urine tests can take 4  to 7 or more working days. Physical examination is done in person, thus your result comes out immediately after the exams.

But you can go to the private STI clinic for good STI testing. If you don't get a call or feedback from the clinic after the test, you can always call to know your result. This is to ensure that there's a follow up if necessary for further testing.

For more information on what to expect in getting an STI test, book an appointment at the STI clinic.