hiv std testing systems

HIV STD Testing Systems

Sexually transmitted diseases are a topic that not many in the society want to engage in.

While many people admit knowing that STIs are a potential threat to their health, no one welcomes a conversation on these diseases with open arms.

However, in a world where anyone can have as many sexual partners as he/she chooses, it’s wise to get ahead of things and learn a little more about these diseases.

HIV STD testing
What is an STI?

In simple English, it's any disease or infection that is transmitted through sexual intercourse.

There are many STIs, some more common than others. Examples of the most common STIs are genital herpes, Gonorrhoea, Chlamydia, Trichomoniasis and HIV/AIDS.

They are caused by different pathogens, have different symptoms, and the risk of serious effects also varies from one to another.

How does one get tested/screened?

Knowing all the diseases won’t help you if you don’t know what the next steps are when you want to get tested.

STD HIV testing systems fall into two categories, clinic-based procedures and home-based systems. The former are used in health institutions by doctors while the latter can be carried out from the comfort of your home.

Clinic-based STI and HIV testing systems

There is no one-size-fits-all procedure for screening for the presence of an STI. In clinics, the doctor chooses what method should be used based on a few factors. These factors include:

The patient’s medical history, the STI being screened for, the symptoms that a sick patient elicits and the sexual history of the patient.

The process of picking the right procedure for screening for an STI depends on more than one of those factors and in most cases, doctors can demand that a patient undergoes more than one of the screening or testing procedures.

Here are some of the testing procedures that you can expect when you visit a hospital for HIV or STI testing.

  • Taking a blood test
  • A simple urine analysis
  • A mouth or saliva swab
  • A genital swab. This method involves a swab of the urethra for men and a swab of the cervix for women.
  • A swab of any discharge, genital or from body sores.

When the STI being tested for is HIV/AIDS, then a blood test with a single drop of blood is enough but other STIs like genital herpes can be more involving that this.

If you don't want to go to a hospital, home-based procedures are for you.

Home-based tests

The concept of avoiding hospitals but still getting the same results has been tested for many years and though not very widely adopted yet, these tests have seen their measure of success.

They are also called self-tests because anyone can do the tests themselves. The downside is that most tests are best suited for HIV tests.

Currently, there two tests that have been officially approved by the FDA. They are as follows.

  1. The first one, HIV-1 test, has been in use since the 1990s and involves taking a drop of your blood obtained from a finger-prick and sending it off to a doctor. There are some necessary steps before sending the blood, like pre-test counselling and giving the doctor your demographic information. After the blood is sent, the patient waits for a few days and then they get their results back. There is some post-test counselling involved before the results are returned, but there is zero contact between the patient and the doctor or any health institution. Though not an entirely self-test method, it is still home-based and saves the patient the stress of going to a clinic for testing. There are different kits for different STIs apart from HIV/AIDS. The most common packages are for gonorrhoea and trichomoniasis
  2. The second procedure was approved in 2012 and is an entirely self-test system. It's mostly available under the brand name of OraQuick. Like the name suggests, this system requires a swab of the patient's mouth to get a sample of their saliva. The swab is then dipped into a liquid that comes with the package and then left to sit for close to an hour before the results are checked. The test takes advantage of the fact that saliva carries antibodies. A patient can do this without the help of a doctor though they are advised to go to a clinic to confirm the results if they show a presence of the disease. This takes care of false-positives. The kits to use can be bought in most clinics, and the test doesn't require any pre-test or post-test counselling.

Though there are two methods in common use, there are lots of other kits out there that claim to be approved and to work. These should not be trusted.

Which one should you settle for?

The answer to that question is different from person to person.

While many individuals prefer the surety that comes with going to a hospital, others want to find out the results in the comfort of their homes.

However, like the majority of health tests, the results of home-based tests cannot be trusted wholly. If they could, then positive patients wouldn't need to go to a clinic to verify their findings.

As such, pick any of the two testing systems but after some time, go to a clinic and get tested by a trained heath professional.

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