Sti Testing: What You Need To Know
If youre sexually active, youve probably heard this many times before- you should be using protection and getting regularly tested for STIs. But what exactly is an STI? And more importantly, why get tested for it?
STIs are sexually transmitted diseases, more commonly referred to as sexually transmitted infections youre able to contract the infection without showing any symptoms. There are several kinds of STIs, each with different characteristics and potential symptoms, but theyve all got one thing in commonengaging in unprotected sexual relations transmits them.
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What Are The First Signs And Symptoms Of Herpes
Oral herpes symptomsinclude:
- Swelling, redness, heat, pain and/or itching at the point of where the infection has started.
- Fluid filled blisters on the lips or under the nose. At this point of oral herpes development, the herpes are highly contagious.
- Blisters leak fluid and become sores.
- After about four to six days, the sores will start to crust over and heal.
Genital herpes symptomsinclude:
- Pain or itching in the genital area.
- Small red bumps or tiny white blisters in/on the genital area shortly after the infection has started.
- Ulcers that may ooze or bleed.
- Painful urination.
How Common Herpes Really Is
Enough people have herpes to make it a totally commonplace infection, even though we may not treat it as one.
Nearly 48 percent of people aged 14 to 49 in the United States were estimated to have HSV-1 between 2015 and 2016, according to the most recent data from the CDC. This high prevalence makes sense because many people actually get the virus from nonsexual contact as children, the CDC explains. This can happen when a parent greets a child with a kiss on the mouth or while a kid is playing with other little ones, since children arent exactly known for their respect of personal space. Remember: HSV-1 often presents as cold sores, but its possible that some people with HSV-1 actually have genital herpes.
So, about genital herpes. You may have heard that one in six people has this infection. Thats a little bit of an outdated figure, Christine Johnston, M.D., an associate professor and herpes researcher at the University of Washington School of Medicine, tells SELF. That number is related to national survey data released by the CDC in 2010 and based on the years 2005 through 2008. This nationally representative research, published in the CDCs 2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey , tested peoples blood samples for antibodies of HSV-1 and HSV-2, estimating that 16.2 percent of Americans aged 14 to 49 had HSV-2 between the years 2005 and 2008. Thats around one in six.
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What Happens During An Std Test
Depending on the type of suspected infection, you may get one of the following types of tests:
- Used to diagnose syphilis, HIV, and sometimes herpes
- During the test, a health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial
- Used to diagnose trichomoniasis and sometimes gonorrhea
- During the test, you will provide a sterile sample of urine in a cup as instructed by your provider
- Used to diagnose HPV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and herpes
Lumbar puncture, also known as a spinal tap
- This is not a frequently used STD test, but it may be ordered if your provider thinks you have an advanced stage of syphilis or if a herpes infection has affected your brain or spinal cord.
- For this test, a provider will inject an anesthetic into your back, so you won’t feel any pain during the procedure.
- Once the area is numb, the provider will insert a thin, hollow needle between two vertebrae in your lower spine. Vertebrae are the small bones that make up your spine. Your provider will then withdraw a small amount of fluid for testing.
You may also be able to check for STDs with an at-home test. Home test kits are available for several STDs, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, trichomoniasis, and hepatitis C.
Herpes Is Very Commonand Not Easy To Spread
The CDC estimates that between 2015 and 2016 nearly 50 percent of the population had HSV-1, which is typically associated with cold sores but can cause genital herpes through oral sex, and about 12 percent of the population had HSV-2, which is usually genital herpes. But if youve never had any herpes symptoms, youre highly unlikely to spread the disease since its most likely to spread during an outbreak. And even when people know they have herpes, studies show that the knowledge doesnât necessarily change their behavior. Meaning, if they were going to have unprotected sex anyway, knowing they have herpes wonât stop them.
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Treatment If The Blisters Come Back
Go to a GP or sexual health clinic if you have been diagnosed with genital herpes and need treatment for an outbreak.
Antiviral medicine may help shorten an outbreak by 1 or 2 days if you start taking it as soon as symptoms appear.
But outbreaks usually settle by themselves, so you may not need treatment.
Recurrent outbreaks are usually milder than the first episode of genital herpes.
Over time, outbreaks tend to happen less often and be less severe. Some people never have outbreaks.
Some people who have more than 6 outbreaks in a year may benefit from taking antiviral medicine for 6 to 12 months.
If you still have outbreaks of genital herpes during this time, you may be referred to a specialist.
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What Is An Std
The difference between STDs and STIs is often muddled.
An STD is a sexually transmitted disease resulting from an STI. Infections happen when bacteria, parasites, or viruses enter the body. This process happens before a disease develops.
While STDs stem from infections , having an STI does not necessarily mean you will develop a disease from that infection.
If youve been sexually active, its a good idea to be tested for STIs. Also, get tested if:
- youre about to begin a new relationship
- you and your partner are thinking about not using condoms or other barrier methods of birth control
- your partner has cheated on you
- you or your partner have multiple partners
- you have symptoms that suggest you might have an STI
If youre in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship and both you and your partner were tested before entering the relationship, you may not need regular STI testing.
But many people in long-term relationships werent tested before they got together. If thats the case for you and your partner, its possible that one or both of you have been living with an undiagnosed STI for years. The safest choice is to get tested.
Your doctor probably wont offer to test you for herpes unless you have a known exposure or ask for the test.
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Book Your Herpes Test
Better2Know is the worlds leading provider of private sexual health testing services. We will arrange a clinic appointment or home testing kit quickly, and deliver fast and accurate results for your peace of mind. If you have any concerns about your sexual health, please call our friendly booking team on the number above or click Book Now.
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Can I Take The Test At Home
At-home tests are available to test for evidence of an HSV infection. At-home herpes testing typically detects HSV antibodies in a self-collected sample of blood and may require additional follow-up if preliminary results are positive. At-home herpes tests can be obtained online or at a local pharmacy.
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Sexually Transmitted Infections Increasing In The Military
Cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis have increased significantly across the military over the past eight years, a study found.
Black service members, women, and enlisted personnel with lower levels of education are most at risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections, according to the study published in the March edition of the Medical Surveillance Monthly Report, a peer-reviewed military health journal.
The study analyzed administrative data and reports from all four branches of the military to provide a comprehensive picture of STIs between 2012 and 2020, using medical and diagnostic codes to identify instances of the five most common STIs chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, genital herpes and human papillomavirus, or HPV.
Patterns in STI frequency mirrored those of the civilian population, but rates of infection in the military were in many cases disproportionately higher.
Of the four branches, the Army had the highest rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea and genital herpes. The Navy had the highest rates of syphilis, and the Air Force had the highest rates of HPV.
Motor transportation workers had higher rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis than any other occupational specialty, while health care occupations had higher rates of HPV. Communications and intelligence specialists, alongside transportation and health care occupations, displayed the highest rates of genital herpes.
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Std Tests At Citylife Health Vs A Private Practice
You do not have to go through your primary care provider or a private practice to get tested for an STD. When finding the perfect urgent care facility for your needs and budget, be sure to find a partner in healthcare that you can depend on to deliver quick results, clear answers, as well as a helping hand on getting and staying healthy after dealing with an STD.
At CityLife Health, STD tests are quick and painless! We make it our priority to deliver fast, friendly, and convenient service to ensure that our patients feel supported and involved in decisions regarding their health. Our healthcare professionals are here to listen to your concerns, answer your questions, and provide top-tier care to patients in the Greater Philadelphia area.
Our clinic offers a large array of STD testing and treatment services conducted by highly-trained staff. We keep your best interests at the forefront of every diagnosis that our providers make and every prescription they write. Our goal is to help you feel informed, empowered, and confident about your sexual health, even if you are not experiencing any physical symptoms and are simply looking for routine care.
After the initial exam, your healthcare professional may require you to give a urine and/or blood sample to help pin-point a proper diagnosis. Once the results are back from the lab, your provider will better understand your symptoms and assign a proper diagnosis.
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When Should I Get Tested
The best time to get tested for herpes if you havent had an initial outbreak is 12 days after exposure. This is because your body will have had time to produce antibodies that can be detected on a test.
A blood test can determine whether you have these antibodies.
Swabs, on the other hand, can detect the virus directly from an active herpes lesion.
How Soon Will I Get My First Outbreak
If youve come into contact with the virus but havent had an outbreak, theres no absolutely certain answer.
A newly infected person will typically have their first outbreak two weeks after contact. However, it can begin within hours of contact or even take a couple of years.
In as many as half of people having primary outbreaks, there are no clinically evident symptoms. In the rest, the symptoms may appear anytime between a few hours to weeks after contact. However, in most, the symptoms start during the first 24 hours of contact.
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Stis Detected By Swab Tests Only
There are certain STIs that can only be diagnosed by testing swabs of genital tissues or sores.
In some cases, a swab may be used to culture the bacteria in a lab. In others, the cells on the swab may be genetically tested to confirm the presence of the STI.
STIs that are diagnosed by testing a swab sample include:
Herpes : : Flu Shot Interfere With Test Results
At the end of December my blood work came back positive for hsv2. I havent had symptoms or outbreaks. After doing research I found that result index levels above 1.1 are considered positive but below 3.0 are low risk and could be false. Mine was 1.2. I had a flu shot the same day as my blood work. Could this have given a false result?
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What Do The Results Mean
The test result will show whether you have an STD. If you are diagnosed with an STD, there is no need to feel embarrassed or ashamed. STDs affect millions of people.
If you have an STD, be sure to take the medicine as prescribed by your provider. It’s also very important that you tell your partner, so they can get tested and treated if necessary.
How To Choose The Right Herpes Test For You
Every herpes test has its own benefits and drawbacks. Its best to discuss your options with a medical professional to make the right choice for your healthcare needs.
It may be helpful to choose your herpes test based on your symptoms. Early in the disease, before a clear herpes outbreak appears, some test methodologies like a PCR test and an antibody blood test can yield false-negative results. On the other hand, a viral culture may yield false-negative results later in the disease.
If you want to receive test results that provide a comprehensive evaluation of your infection, consider using multiple herpes testing methods. If getting a rapid result is your priority, a PCR test is the fastest option.
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Can Herpes Simplex Virus Cause Serious Infections
Yes. The most serious, or life-threatening, HSV infections can occur in newborns who are infected during birth and in individuals with weakened immune systems , such as organ transplant recipients and people with HIV/AIDS. Neonatal herpes is a serious condition, but also very rare. While 25-30% of pregnant women have genital herpes, less than 0.1% of babies born in the U.S. each year get neonatal herpes. This means that most women with genital herpes give birth to healthy babies.
HSV lesions tend to be more extensive and persist longer in newborns and immunocompromised people than in individuals who have healthy immune systems.
How Can People Test For Herpes
A person can ask for a herpes test at any sexual health clinic or a doctors office. A healthcare professional will either swab a blister or draw a blood sample.
At-home herpes tests often require a blood sample through a finger prick.
Once a person receives their test results, they should contact a doctor to discuss treatment options, if necessary.
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When Should I Talk With A Doctor
If you have a primary care doctor who you regularly visit, you can share your results with them to provide better insight into your next steps.
If you dont have a primary care doctor, you can consult with a physician or nurse from the testing site about treatment options.
If youve been treating your symptoms with medication and are still in pain or discomfort, reach out to a healthcare professional.
Treatment The First Time You Have Genital Herpes
You may be prescribed:
- antiviral medicine to stop the symptoms getting worse you need to start taking this within 5 days of the symptoms appearing
- cream for the pain
If you have had symptoms for more than 5 days before you go to a sexual health clinic, you can still get tested to find out the cause.
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Are There Any Risks To The Test
There is no known risk to having a swab test.
There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.
If you had a lumbar puncture, you may have pain or tenderness in your back where the needle was inserted. You may also get a headache after the procedure.
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Is There Anything Else I Should Know
Herpes can make people more susceptible to HIV infection. The skin lesions give other sexually transmitted diseases , including HIV, openings for entering the body. Likewise, it can make HIV-infected individuals more infectious. Infection with HSV can also increase HIV viral load. HSV-2 infection is a significant opportunistic infection in HIV-infected individuals due to immune system deficiencies up to 90% of HIV-infected individuals are co-infected with HSV-2.
Treatment For Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Patients who have a bacterial STD such as gonorrhea or chlamydia will receive a prescription for antibiotics. It is critical to follow the instructions so the antibiotics kill the infection. Patients should undergo a second round of testing three months after finishing the antibiotics to ensure the infection did not reappear. If it reoccurs, patients must undergo a second round of treatment.
Genital herpes is a viral STD and cannot be cured. However, antiviral drugs limit the number of outbreaks and also reduce the symptoms. These drugs also make infected patients less likely to pass the disease to sexual partners. Antiviral drugs do not completely eliminate the risk, though, so safe sex is necessary.
HIV is also a virus, but instead of antiviral drugs, the doctor will likely treat it with antiretroviral therapy. The patient will take a series of HIV medications. The medications reduce symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. Antiretroviral therapy also reduces the risk of transmitting the disease to others, although it is still possible.