HIV Test – Should I get Tested?

In the early 1980s, HIV/AIDS was viewed as a death sentence. But times have changed with modern antiretrovirals – life expectancy is now near normal for people with HIV. But first things first, you need to get a HIV test so you can know your HIV status.

What is HIV/AIDS?

You’ve probably heard the word HIV or AIDS in the news and media, but let’s get to the facts. What exactly is HIV? HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. WHO defines HIV as a virus that infects cells of the immune system, destroying or impairing their function. This attack on the immune system results in a weakened and defenceless immune system.

AIDS in full stands for acquired immune deficiency syndrome. It refers to the latter stages of HIV when the disease has progressed resulting in attack of the body by opportunistic infections. The most obvious symptoms of AIDS is body wasting, change of skin colour and hair thinning and change of hair colour too.

Who can get HIV/AIDS?

At the close of 2018, UNAIDS Global Statistics reported that 36.9 million people are living with HIV/AIDS. That is basically equivalent to Australia’s population. Therefore, unlike the myths that you can somehow know someone is HIV positive by just looking at them, it is nearly impossible to know one’s status unless they are at the latter stages of the disease when the HIV symptoms are showing.

Saying that that means that everyone is at risk of being infected. However, there are certain groups of people who are more susceptible to HIV than the general public. They include:

  1. Commercial sex workers.
  2. People who inject drugs. When high, people tend to do things recklessly, and one of these things is sharing needles and engaging in unsafe sexual behaviour.
  3. Victims of Sexual Abuse.
  4. Men who sex with men. (MSM). This is because cells in the anal area are more susceptible to HIV and unlike vaginal sex where there is the production of vaginal fluid for lubrication, anal sex may experience bleeding
  5. People with more than one sexual partner. This is risky because your multiple sexual partners may have other sexual partners. This increases your susceptibility.
  6. People whose spouses are HIV – this was places as the last one simply because right now discordant couples can live without infection of their spouse if they take PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis).
  7. Caregivers to HIV – This rarely happens, but this a group of people is also at risk of infection.

The major risk factors, however, vary between countries. In %country%, the one of the major contributor to new HIV infections is drug abuse.

How is HIV/AIDS spread?

Some of us distance ourselves from our friends or family the minute we know they’re HIV positive. It’s about time we end that trait. You cannot get HIV by simply touching an HIV positive person. So relax. People stay up to 10 years without HIV symptoms showing.

Let’s get the myths out of the way. HIV is a virus and any virological disease is transmitted through the exchange of body fluids. These body fluids saliva, blood, and other fluids.

We’ve been told multiple times that we shouldn’t have unprotected sex, but we still do it nonetheless. It’s just human nature. Deep kissing a person who has open wounds also puts you at risk. Well, have you had unprotected sex with more than one partner? Then you should get your HIV status tested for ASAP.

Health professionals working around PLWHA are a neglected group that is at risk of getting infected with HIV/AIDS. They perform surgical procedures and therefore as the routine check they are required to do an HIV test from time to time.

Are you living with an HIV positive person? Probably giving them care or they are in perfect health. Then you should also consider getting a HIV test every 3 – 6 months.

People who inject drugs have this reckless behaviour of sharing syringes. It could be the spur of the moment, but it’s a risk you should not take. If you’re guilty of this, get to your nearest health facility and get that test done.

Commercial sex workers have adapted the use of PrEP, but they are still at risk of being infected with HIV/AIDS if they do not adhere strictly to the regimen.

Sexual abuse can happen to anyone, and it’s the worst thing that can happen to anyone. But if this unfortunate deed happens to you, go to your nearest health facility and report your case. They’ll test you for HIV and other STDs and prescribe you HIV PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) if you meet the requirements .

Transfusion of blood from an HIV positive person is rare, but it is a sure way of transmission of HIV.

Lastly, during delivery between a mother and child, HIV can be transmitted if the mother is HIV positive.

These are just but a few to give you a clue, but any situation that comes in mind that involves the exchange of body fluid is right.

Why should I take an HIV test?

Approximately 75% of people living with HIV globally were aware of their HIV status in 2017. The remaining 25% (over 9 million people) still need access to HIV testing services. (Global Statistics, 2018) The 25% who don’t know their status are at risk of quickly deteriorating to AIDS since they aren’t on ARVs.

Many countries like %country% have increased their efforts to encourage their residence to undertake the HIV test. This enables reduction of AIDS-related deaths.

You know how they say knowledge is power, they’re right. Knowing your HIV status equips you with the ability to make the right decisions for your life onwards. If you test positive, you can begin antiretroviral therapy to increase and improve your quality of life.

If you’ve tested positive for an STD, then you should get your HIV test done too. STDs and HIV are acquired similarly and there is a probability that when you got infected with the STD, you could have also been infected with HIV.

Do it as moral support for people close to you. You probably already got your HIV test done just recently, but if you have friends or family who believe they have recently been exposed, have multiple sexual partners, engage in risky sexual behaviours or are going to get married – they really should get tested. If they’re afraid of getting their HIV test done, tag along with them and do the test with them so they get the support they need. It can be really scary and embarrassing for many when doing it alone.

Where Can I Get tested?

Check if your GP in %country% has HIV Testing and counselling facilities or experience doing them. There are also independent HIV testing centers. In many countries, there are could be centers that let you get tested anonymously.  There are also HIV self-test kits available in some countries or online with clear instructions on how to carry out the test.

HIV Test Procedure

This will probably take less than an hour.

Tools required:

  • Test kit
  • Interpretation chart
  • Timer
  • Capillary tubes
  • Gloves
  • Cotton
  • Methylated spirit
  • Swaps
  • Prickers
  • Buffer
  • Female and male dummy
  • Female and male condoms.
  • Waste disposal bins

Pre-counseling

The counsellor will begin by first introducing themselves by name and explaining to you the procedures, assuring you that everything you talk about in that room is strictly confidential. They’ll ask you a few questions to find out if you know clearly about HIV/AIDS and explain the basics. They’ll also want to know your reasons for coming to be tested and recent sexual history. This is usually known as risk assessment. This is inclusive of getting to know your expectations are and know how they will react to the news and advise accordingly.

Testing Procedure

  1. The clinician will wear gloves and prepare their tools of use.
  2. The clinician will then wipe your index finger with a piece of cotton soaked in methylated spirit.
  3. With a new pricker, he/she will prick your finger.
  4. The oozing blood is directed into a capillary tune until it is almost full or at least half way complete.
  5. The blood from the capillary tube is put on the new test kit.
  6. A drop of the buffer is put on the blood on the test kit.
  7. The timer is put on and wait for at 15 – 20 minutes

Interpretation of results

  • A single line on the test kit indicates that you are HIV negative.
  • Two lines on the test kit indicate you are HIV positive.
  • No lines indicate the results are invalid and the procedure should be done again.
  • If positive, another confirmatory test will be done.

Post counselling

This is the counselling done after the results have been interpreted. If you test negative, you’ll be advised on safe sexual practices and healthy living.

If your results read that you’re HIV positive, you’ll be advised on how to live positively and urged to start ART as soon as possible.

Recording of results

Results of your HIV test will be recorded. This is purposes of research and for the planning of health budgets globally by various global health organizations like UNAIDS and WHO. In %country%, the results a recorded in a health records book issued by the ministry of health. 

I just got tested. What next?

You finally mastered the courage to get tested. That’s great! But now that you know your status you don’t know what to do next. Let me first say this, whatever your results turned out to be, life goes on.

If you tested negative, moving forward ensure you practice safe sex, be faithful to your partner or consider going on the HIV PrEP regimen. Avoid any situation that may put you at risk of getting infected with HIV, if you do get exposed, consider HIV PEP. Remember HIV doesn’t usually manifest physically so it is not easy to tell if someone who are going to be intimate with has been infected.

If you tested positive, go on treatment immediately.  Surround yourself with family and friends and enjoy your life to the fullest. With full adherence to HIV treatment, there is a high chance of brining HIV viral load down to a level where it is no longer detectable, you’ve got a long life ahead of you.

If you are sexually active with multiple partners,  get tested to find out your HIV status. Live cautiously, remember HIV symptoms don’t show until it’s at the full-blown stage. HIV is just a disease like any other – It all depends on how you manage it.

References.

UNAIDSDate. “Global Statistics.” HIV.gov, 10 Jan. 2019, www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/data-and-trends/global-statistics.

The Antiretroviral Cohort Collaboration. Life expectancy of individuals on combination therapy in high-income countries: a collaborative analysis of 14 cohort studies. The Lancet 372: 293 – 299, 2008.

Cooper DA. Life and death in the cART era. The Lancet 372: 266 – 267, 2008.

HIV Screening

Taking good care of your health often involves medical screening to ensure the early diagnosis of a problem. HIV screening is one such early detection method that’s a good choice for people who have multiple partners, sex workers, those who engage in risky sexual behaviours and medical workers.

HIV screening tests are the first line of assessment towards the establishment of a diagnosis. Screening options are readily available in %country% and even if you don’t belong to the risk groups but are sexually active, you should still consider getting screened every once in a while.

Knowing what screening tests are, how they’re performed and when you’re going to get results will give you some clarity and peace of mind about the process. The following guide will take you through the essentials so that you feel prepared when you visit a clinic for HIV screening.

What Is HIV Screening?

HIV screening is used to determine whether a person is HIV-positive or negative.

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) spreads through contact with blood, semen, vaginal fluids and other bodily fluids. Over time, it causes the progressive deterioration of the immune system. The most advanced stage of the infection is known as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS.

According to the World Health Organization, the most common ways of HIV acquisition in %country% include the following:

  • Unprotected sexual contact with an infected person
  • Blood transfusion of contaminated blood
  • Sharing of injecting equipment like needles (especially in the case of intravenous drug users)
  • Using contaminated surgical equipment
  • Transmission from infected mother to baby

Currently, 36.9 million people across the world live with HIV or AIDS. In 2017, 1.8 million people became newly infected regardless of higher level of awareness and readily available prevention methods.

The good news is that effective screening and antiretroviral therapy have contributed to a reduction in the number of HIV and AIDS deaths. As of 2017, the number of deaths went down 51 percent in comparison to a peak detected in 2004 (1.9 million deaths).

Screening and HIV tests are readily available, allowing for the earliest possible detection of the virus. Once a positive HIV status is established, a person can move on to more sophisticated diagnostic procedures.

HIV screening is performed in a very simple way – a blood sample is drawn and examined for the virus. Screening is carried out while people are still asymptomatic (there are no signs of immunodeficiency). Alternative screening methods have also been developed – through an oral fluid swab or a urine sample.

A few of the screening methods provide instantaneous results and there’s no need to wait and worry over one’s condition.

If you plan to get HIV screening, here’s how it’s going to happen.

How HIV Screening Occurs

The steps to be completed in order to get screened for HIV include the following:

  • Visit a nearby clinic in %country% that offers HIV screening
  • You will have to answer a few questions that will be used to determine whether the screening will provide adequate results
  • Keep in mind that some time will have to pass for HIV to become available in a sample (if you’ve had unprotected sex, for example, screening should take place six weeks to three months after that), otherwise you may get a false negative
  • Follow the instructions so that a sample can be drawn (blood, urine, saliva)
  • Even if you’re scared of blood draws, understand the fact that this type of screening is most effective
  • You’ll be instructed about when HIV test results are going to become available – in some instances, you’ll instantly get the screening results
  • If the screening is positive, you will have to go through a follow-up HIV test
  • The follow-up test is known as confirmatory test and it provides more accurate information than the screening
  • A follow-up test can also tell the difference between the two common types of HIV viruses – HIV-1 and HIV-2

Depending on the results, visit your healthcare provider in %country% to come up with an action plan for your future treatment

Screening itself works by detecting antibodies rather than the virus itself.

An antibody test is known as an immunoassay. Blood has the highest level of antibodies, which is why these screening options in %country% are considered to be most reliable. Saliva and urine tests are much less reliable and they can give a false negative.

Alternatively, screening for HIV can work by detecting an HIV antigen called p24. The levels of p24 are highest in the blood when a person has just gotten infected and the body hasn’t had a chance yet to start producing antigens.

A p24 antigen screening can give results as early as 11 days after the infection has occurred. This type of screening, however, is much more difficult to come across than the standard antibody test.

Who Should Be Screened? How Often?

Screening is a good choice for all sexually active individuals, including those who do not engage in risky behaviours. HIV testing and other STD panels ensure good health and a responsible attitude towards one’s own wellbeing.

There have been recommendations for HIV screening to become a routine aspect of diagnostic healthcare in %country%. General care providers currently are at a freedom to recommend screening to their patients on the basis of medical history and specific concerns.

Certain groups of people, however, are considered high risk individuals. These people should be provided with regular screening options by their GPs:

  • Individuals presenting HIV symptoms
  • Those who have long battled with an illness caused by a compromised immune response
  • Anyone who is sexually active and who has never gotten HIV testing
  • Individuals who have shared drug using equipment (needles, syringes) with others
  • Pregnant women and their partners, whenever there’s any risk of HIV exposure
    Victims of sex crimes
  • The partners of people who have tested HIV positive
  • Sex workers

A few other factors that could contribute to the need for HIV screening include polygamy or having multiple partners, a diagnosis of other STDs, receiving a blood transfusion in a country known for an HIV epidemic, a history of sex with other men in the case of male patients.

Individuals who are considered high risk need to get HIV screening at least once per year (two times per year is even better). Those who get a negative test soon after potential exposure should get retested in a month or two.

Those who are not considered at a higher risk of HIV exposure should talk to their GP about the best screening frequency.

Preparing for HIV Screening

Anyone who is preparing to have HIV screening done will feel nervous about the procedure. Since there are no HIV symptoms at this point yet, the level of uncertainty will be very high.

Understand the fact that the initial HIV test is very easy to do. It has become routine and you can get tested in various labs or reproductive health centers in %country%. If you feel uncertain, call the facility in advance to have some of your most pressing questions answered.

No preparation is necessary when you’re getting HIV screening. The time of the day and whether you’ve eaten anything before going to get tested will not affect the outcome in one way or another.

The test itself will feel like a regular blood draw. Anyone who has already gotten blood drawn from a vein will know what to expect. In some instances, a finger prick will be used to collect a very small amount of blood that will be placed on a test strip.

Oral swab and urine tests result cause no discomfort, which is why some people may opt for such alternatives. Remember, however, that these HIV screening options aren’t as reliable as a test that examines a blood sample.

When you’re getting tested, you should inquire about when results become available and how you’re going to receive them.

Testing too early after potential exposure, however, could give you a false negative. This is why you may want to wait for several weeks after exposure before getting HIV screening.

Getting a positive result does not necessarily mean a person is HIV positive.

If the screening is positive, a follow-up HIV test will have to be done to detect the presence of the virus itself rather than the antibodies in the blood.

One final very important thing to understand is that the confidentiality of people in %country% who decide to get HIV screening is guaranteed. There’s no reason to worry about someone finding out you’ve gone to get tested (regardless of the fact that this is a good thing and it shows your own level of responsibility). You’re the only person who can receive the results and opt for a follow-up consultation if such assistance is required.

What Happens after Getting the HIV Screening Done?

Even if you get a negative result, the lab technicians or medical professionals in %country% responsible for screening administration will inform you about the window period (six weeks to 11 months) and the need to get retested if exposure has occurred recently.

At the lab or reproductive center, you’ll also get more information about the most common ways in which HIV spreads, how to protect yourself and reduce the risk of exposure significantly.

Usually, results will be provided in person, whether positive or negative. This follow-up meeting provides the clinician with an opportunity to answer any questions that could have arisen in the waiting time. As already mentioned, certain types of HIV screening provide instantaneous results. In such instances, the test and the discussion of the results will happen in the same day.

Anyone who gets a positive result will be provided with a bit of time to process the information, after which the most important questions about the condition will be answered.

A HIV test will be scheduled following a positive screening result to look for the actual virus in the blood sample. Once the positive HIV status is confirmed, a discussion will take place about the next steps.

Many people still don’t understand the fact that HIV and AIDS have become quite manageable through advances in antiretroviral therapy.

HIV is no longer considered a death sentence. Rather, it’s a chronic illness. The administration of the right medications and a few life chances will result in a long and happy life, especially if the virus is detected soon after the infection has occurred.

If you do test positive, you will be provided with information about lifestyle changes that reduce the risk of further transmission. You’ll also be given the contact information of treatment centers or specialists in %country% who could provide the right treatment option.

Bottom Line

Medicine has gone a long way to manage HIV, reduce infection risks and provide viable treatment options to HIV positive individuals.

As a sexually-active adult or an individual belonging to a risk group, you have to get in the habit of regular HIV screening.

Many facilities in %country% offer free of charge or affordable HIV screening. This is your opportunity to control your life and wellbeing. Even if you get a positive test results, there are things you can do to control HIV and even go back to HIV negative status.

HIV screening is simple, accessible, quick and reliable. All it takes is the collection of a small blood sample and you’ll know your status. Don’t hesitate to seek HIV screening options or to talk to your GP about this opportunity. Your confidentiality is guaranteed and you can continue enjoying your life without a fear of a serious infection.

HIV Check

While much has been done to reduce the instance of HIV, it is still an issue that affects millions of people around the world. If left untreated, HIV can turn into full-blown AIDS, and cause a host of other health issues ranging from mild to even life-threatening. In addition to the risks that someone with HIV faces with regard to their health, there is also the serious risk of spreading HIV without even knowing one has it. This is why HIV checks are so important. There are now a variety of different tests that are well-suited to catching HIV, even in its earliest stages.

HIV: The Basics

Symptoms of HIV can range from very mild to severe, depending on when it is detected. What follows are some of the most common symptoms associated with HIV. HIV means the human immunodeficiency virus. The virus acts by destroying white blood cells, which are the type of blood cells that fight various types of infection.

HIV can, but will not necessarily, develop AIDS. It is spread through unprotected sexual intercourse, sharing of needles, or being exposed to the blood or bodily secretions of someone who has HIV. Since so many of the symptoms are, at first, very mild, and can be confused for other ailments, it is often difficult to catch. More severe symptoms can take months or years to present themselves. This is why an HIV check is so vitally important for those who are at a higher risk of getting the virus.

Many government-run, health-related websites in %country% provide a detailed checklist of the most common symptoms associated with HIV, as well as information about resources for HIV test kits. What follows are some of the more common early symptoms of HIV:

  • muscle aches
  • chills
  • constant fatigue
  • fever
  • night sweats
  • muscle aches
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • muscle pain
  • mouth sores

Since these symptoms are quite common and can indicate a wide range of different health issues, it can be difficult to know that what you are dealing with is HIV without being tested. For those who are at a higher risk of getting HIV, getting an HIV test kit is highly recommended. The sooner the virus is caught, the easier it is to manage and keep it from progressing into something more serious.

HIV Risk Factors

There are a number of factors that can put someone at greater risk for getting HIV. The most common ways HIV is spread is through sexual intercourse. Unprotected vaginal or anal sex is one of the easiest ways that HIV can be transmitted. The sharing of needles for the use of intravenous drugs is also another common way that HIV can be transmitted from person to person. However, simply living in a community with a high incidence of people with HIV will put one at an elevated risk of contracting HIV.

Though it is far less common, HIV can be transmitted from mother to child. This can occur before the child is even born. Breast Milk is another means in which the virus can be passed from mother to child. If you had a blood infusion before 1985, you may be at risk for HIV. After 1985, all donated blood in the US and much of Europe are tested for HIV.

There is evidence that there can even be a genetic predisposition to getting HIV. Research has shown that there is a gene that works to fight HIV, and some people are born with a lower amount of copies of these genes than others, putting them at greater risk. At present, there is not a test that can determine your genetic likelihood of getting HIV, but perhaps in the future, such a test will exist.

HIV and Aids

If left untreated, HIV can cause a host of more serious health issues. This includes the progression of the disease from HIV to AIDS. Those who are not seeking treatment for their HIV are at very high risk for the virus developing into AIDS, which is considered the latest stage of the HIV infection. Not everyone who has the virus will experience the progression of HIV AIDS.

There are a number of common symptoms that can indicate that the HIV infection has progressed into AIDS, such as:

  • profuse night sweats
  • fatigue
  • swelling of glands in the neck, groin, or arm
  • extended diarrhoea
  • unexplained weight loss
  • memory loss
  • sores in the mouth or genitals
  • colourful blotches around the nose, mouth, or eyes
  • pneumonia

Different Types of HIV Checks and Tests

There are a wide variety of different HIV tests that can identify the problem at a number of different stages. There are many services in %country% that provide free or reduced-cost access to some of these testing mechanisms. There are HIV self-test kits in some countries that allow you to test yourself at home. This is not available in all countries. The costs of the various HIV tests will vary in %country%, but most often they can be obtained for less than $100 US Dollars.

There is an HIV test window period, which refers to how long after exposure that the infection can be detected. The 3rd generation HIV test Singapore uses can only detect the infection about 3 months after it has been acquired. These 3rd generation kits will test for HIV antibodies and it takes a few weeks to get the results back, but they are highly reliable. The newer, 4th generation HIV test Singapore also uses can detect the virus much sooner than the 3rd generation test. The test detects HIV antibodies and p24 viral proteins and can detect HIV as little as a month after exposure. Test results usually come back quickly with this test, taking as little as a few days, and it is highly reliable.

The 3rd and 4th generation tests are the most common types of test used at most doctor’s offices and even other testing facilities like certain drug stores. There are also what are called rapid tests, which test for HIV antibodies. This test is effective at detecting IV about 3 months after exposure. The rapid test, as the name implies, returns results in as little as 20 minutes. This test is fairly effective for a simple HIV infection, but for those who have a more complicated infection, it may return inaccurate results.

Some countries offer access to self-testing kits, as noted above. This test, like many of the other types of HIV tests, check for HIV antibodies and can detect the virus about 3 months after exposure. Like the rapid test, it returns the test results in as little as 20 minutes. This is a fairly decent test that provides a good indication that one has or doesn’t have the virus, but it is highly recommended that one follow up with a healthcare professional for further testing and a course of treatment.

How HIV Tests Work

These tests all work in slightly different ways, so we will touch on the ways in which each kind of test described above detects HIV. First, we will look at the 3rd generation HIV test.

The 3rd generation HIV test is also called the ELISA antibody test. When someone has HIV, there are antibodies that your body will begin to produce, which attempt to attach to the HIV virus in order to destroy it. This test detects these antibodies, which will be present in the blood, urine, or saliva of an infected person. It takes about three months for these antibodies to build up enough in your system to be detected by the 3rd generation test.

The 4th generation HIV test is called the ELISA combined antigen/antibody test. As the 3rd generation test, the 4th generation test also looks for the presence of antibodies associated with an HIV infection. Additionally, this test also looks for something called p24 antigens, which are part of the virus itself. If one has been infected with HIV, there will be a high level of p24 antigens in the blood. Unlike the 3rd generation test, this test can detect the virus one month after exposure. Test results for this type of test usually come back faster than 3rd generation test results.

Rapid HIV tests are actually a class of different types of tests, but they all work in roughly the same way. Like the other test we have described, the rapid test will detect antibodies in the blood. These tests will be accurate three months after exposure, as the 3rd generation tests. These tests use a drop of blood from a prick on your finger. It takes about 20 minutes to return the results. While these tests are fairly accurate, they are known to produce false positives, which shows that one has HIV when they, in fact, do not.

Self-testing isn’t available in a lot of places yet outside of Europe and the United States. These tests are convenient in that you can take them from the comfort of your own home and can often find them for sale online. If choosing a self-testing kit, it is important to choose one that has CE (European) or FDA (USA) approval. These tests also detect antibodies and are accurate three months after exposure. Like the rapid tests, the self-test kits can give false positives. If the test comes up positive, one needs to visit a healthcare professional for further testing and a care plan.

Treatment

The prognosis for HIV detected early is quite good. The problem arises when the virus goes undetected or untreated. There are a number of different types of treatment and there are some cutting-edge treatments that can actually help those exposed to the virus to reduce their chances of actually contracting it. First, we will discuss the drugs that are used to prevent the development of the virus in those who have been exposed, and then discuss the treatment used for those who are already infected.

There are two main types of “preventative” drugs used for those who have been exposed to or may be exposed to HIV. These are called pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) are drugs that are taken daily by those who do not have HIV but are regularly exposed to the virus. If, for example, one is unaffected but has an infected partner, these drugs, when taken daily, can help reduce the likelihood of actually contracting the virus. When taken as prescribed, PrEP is about 90% effective at stopping the transmission of the virus via sexual intercourse, and about 70% effective at stopping the transmission through the use of shared needles for injected drugs.

Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is meant to be used by someone who may have been exposed to HIV. This is an emergency solution that is effective within 72-hours of exposure to the virus. Whether exposed via the workplace, sex, or drug usage, this can be an effective way to help reduce the chance of actually contracting the infection. This is a short-term treatment and is not intended for those who may be continually exposed to the virus. PEP is taken for a prescribed course and then further tests will be done to ensure that one did not contract the virus.

For those who have already contracted HIV, treatment includes the use of antiretroviral therapy (ART) drugs. This usually contains a number of different HIV medications from multiple classes of drugs on a daily basis. It is important to note that ART does not cure HIV, but it helps people to live happier and healthier lives than one would without treatment. These drugs can help reduce the risk of transmission of the infection, but precautions are still needed for partners of those taking ART.

Today, there are a number of highly accurate HIV checks that can detect the virus from between one and three months after exposure occurs. These tests look for certain antibodies that are known to develop as a result of an HIV infection. Newer tests, like the 4th generation HIV test, also test for other compounds that are indicative of the HIV virus and can detect the presence of HIV sooner than any of the other tests on the market. There are rapid tests, and in some countries, you can even order an HIV test online and take it in the comfort of your own home. These tests are highly effective and can help those exposed to the virus to determine whether or not they have contracted it and to seek the proper course of treatment if they have.

Everything You Need to Know about Premature Ejaculation but Was Too Embarrassed to Ask

Premature ejaculation is one of the most common male reproductive problems. Because of the stigma attached to it, however, many men in %country% refrain from seeking an adequate treatment for premature ejaculation.

The issue affects men in a number of ways. It can have a profound impact on one’s intimate life, their relationship with a partner and even their self-confidence. While many think they’re alone in this, statistics show that one in three men will experience the problem in their lifetime.

What exactly is premature ejaculation, who’s affected by it, how is it diagnosed and what’s the best treatment for premature ejaculation in %country%? The following guide will try to answer these important questions.

An Introduction to Premature Ejaculation: A Few Important Facts

Medically speaking, premature ejaculation is defined as a person ejaculating almost always within a minute of penetration and being incapable of delaying climax nearly every time.

Defining PE is difficult because there are no unified criteria as to what’s normal and how long intercourse should last. Hence, premature ejaculation could be somewhat subjective. If the inability to delay climax is a cause of concern, poor intimate experiences and relationship troubles, a clinical condition is considered to be the problem.

The medical community has been attempting to understand PE better ever since the 1970s when the first definitions of the condition came into existence.

In 1994, a timeframe was introduced for the first time. It was 15 seconds of penetrative intercourse leading to ejaculation. The reason why the 15-second timeframe was utilised, however, remained unclear.

Today, the one-minute timeframe is the standard for diagnosing premature ejaculation but as already mentioned, a few other conditions will have to be met. Inability to delay climax, an inability to last long enough to enable a partner climax and personal issues stemming from that physiological response have been added to the mix.

If you’re making your first steps in the world of understanding premature ejaculation, you may want to consider these essential facts:

  • Premature ejaculation is caused by both physiological and psychological factors
    Most of the time, PE is caused by psychological factors and there’s nothing physically wrong with a man’s reproductive system
  • PE can be lifelong or it can be acquired during certain periods in life (for example – due to performance anxiety, relationship problems or an underlying medical condition)
  • PE is much more common among older men (25 percent of men aged 65 to 75 report dealing with PE in comparison to seven percent of men in the 45 to 55 age group)
  • Premature ejaculation can be managed – The treatment for premature ejaculation could involve behavioural modification and a specific set of sexual practices, as well as the use of topical products and numbing agents

Premature Ejaculation Signs and Symptoms

Doctors in %country% can diagnose premature ejaculation on the basis of patient history. You may be suffering from PE if you’re dealing with the following:

• An inability to delay ejaculation for more than one minute of penetration
• An inability to delay ejaculation during masturbation (some people believe mistakenly that PE occurs only during intercourse with a partner)
• Unsatisfactory duration of intercourse for either you or your partner
• Feelings of frustration stemming from sexual performance
• Men suffering from PE are also more likely to self-report other sexual conditions like anorgasmia, low libido or erectile dysfunction
• Distress, anxiety and even depression
• Premature ejaculation that becomes worse or more difficult to manage as time goes by

If you wish that sex lasted longer, you may need to visit an experienced urologist and talk about the performance issues that worry you.

When you go to see a doctor, you’ll be asked several key things. The doctor would want to know how long you’ve been dealing with the problem, whether you have underlying medical conditions, whether you’ve experienced the same issue with another partner and if your relationship is currently stable and fulfilling.

Depending on the answers, a doctor may also perform a physical exam to rule out a physiological factor contributing to premature ejaculation.

The Main Cause of Premature Ejaculation

While the cause of premature ejaculation will be easy to identify in some instances, other situations pose a medical challenge.

Doctors in %country% will not always be capable of pinpointing one definitive underlying cause.

The main cause of premature ejaculation can be psychological or physiological.

Some of the most common psychological causes include:

• Performance anxiety, especially in men who do not have a lot of sexual experience
• Poor body image and the lack of self-confidence
• A negative perception of one’s sexuality due to religion or upbringing
• Depression
• Feelings of guilt (typically related to upbringing) that prevent men from enjoying the moment and get them rushing through the sexual experience
• Relationship problems
• Poor communication with a partner about sexual needs and preferences
• Stress
• Cultural aspects (sex being considered shameful and never getting talked about)
• The expectations of failure (hence, premature ejaculation experienced several times will make the problem worse in the future due to the psychological connotations)

The physiological conditions that cause premature ejaculation are the culprit much less often than the psychological causes. Still, a few medical problems could be contributing to PE or aggravating a pre-existing psychological issue:

• Hormone level abnormalities
• Neurotransmitter abnormalities
• Prostate inflammation
• Urethral infections
• A conditioned response (especially in men whose families considered masturbation taboo – they had to rush through it in order to never get caught)
• Diabetes
• High blood pressure
• Thyroid problems
• Excessive alcoholic beverage consumption

There are a few others much more serious chronic medical conditions that could contribute to premature ejaculation. Multiple sclerosis is one of them.

To achieve long lasting erections, men will need to take a deep introspective look into these factors. Premature ejaculation is not normal and it doesn’t happen on its own. Furthermore, treatment options do exist. There’s no need to accept the condition for granted and continue living with it.

What’s the Best Treatment for Premature Ejaculation?

If there’s a physiological premature ejaculation cause, it will have to be addressed. Once the right treatment is sought, the severity of PE can be expected to decrease. Eventually the condition will disappear altogether.

Dealing with the psychological causes of premature ejaculation can be a lot trickier. Conditioning and patience will be required to eventually get and sustain long lasting erections.

Let’s examine some of the most popular techniques and approaches that can result in overcoming premature ejaculation.

The Start and Stop Method

Make sure that your partner is onboard and communicate with them about this treatment option if you want to beat premature ejaculation.

The start and stop method, as the name suggests, involves controlling levels of arousal.

The aim is to increase control over one’s erectile response and ejaculation. Once a point of excessive arousal is reached, sexual stimulation stops. This technique gives the man a chance to calm down, control arousal and eventually postpone climax.

Using the start and stop method will necessitate a lot of practice. In the beginning, it could be difficult to pinpoint the right method to stop. With time, however, a man will get a better idea about their bodily functions and responses to sexual stimulation.

Pelvic Floor Exercises: Kegels

Pelvic floor of kegel exercises have been proven to enhance control over one’s erection and ejaculatory response.

The best aspect of this technique for the treatment of premature ejaculation is that it’s simple, no equipment is required and the exercises can be practiced anywhere, anytime.

Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles (the ones you use to stop the flow of urine when peeing). When these muscles become stronger, better control is achieved over sexual performance. In addition, some sexual experiences could become much more pleasurable.

To do kegel exercises, you’ll need to complete the following steps:

• To identify the pelvic floor muscles, hold urination midstream
• Now that you know which muscles need to contract, you can start practicing
• Squeeze the muscles and hold the contraction for a few seconds
• Release, take a breath and repeat
• When your pelvic floor muscles become stronger, you can exercise while walking around or doing household chores
• As the strength of the muscles increases, you can also start holding the contraction for a certain period of time

According to practitioners in %country%, kegel exercises work best in conjunction with another approach like the start and stop method.

Desensitizing Condoms and Ointments

If behavioural techniques aren’t enough to overcome premature ejaculation and achieve long lasting erections, topical products can also be utilized.

There are condoms, creams and sprays that contain a numbing agent (anaesthetic substance).

This numbing agent like lidocaine, for example, decreases the sensitivity of the penis and slows down arousal.

Condoms contain a smaller amount, which is why you may want to try them first. If you don’t get a pronounced enough effect, talk to your doctor and get a prescribed topical treatment.

Topical anaesthetics are applied 10 to 15 minutes before having intercourse. Keep in mind you should always use a condom after applying such a cream or spray because otherwise, it will also affect your partner’s sensitivity.

Keep in mind that it’s not a good idea to overdo the use of topical anaesthetics. Some men report the complete loss of sensitivity through prolonged use or when too much of the product is applied.

Medications

Oral analgesics can be used to help mean dealing with premature ejaculation.

Tramadol is one example of a drug used for the treatment of premature ejaculation in %country%.

This pharmaceutical is a pain reliever. It has a side effect, however. Through research, clinicians found out that tramadol could delay ejaculation.

Some of the medications used for the treatment of erectile dysfunction in %country% could also relieve the symptoms of premature ejaculation.

Finally, antidepressants may be prescribed. These pills have a side effect of delaying climax. Usually, the pills will have to be taken for at least 10 days for the effect to be observed. Antidepressants, however, may cause various unpleasant side effects. This is why many men aren’t keen on the treatment option.

Bottom Line

Understand the fact that you’re not alone and there’s nothing embarrassing about your diagnosis.

A man’s sex life can improver exponentially when problems like premature ejaculation are tackled. For the purpose, however, you will have to accept the fact that you have a problem and you’ll have to be proactive in the identification of the right solution.

If you are in a relationship, get your partner involved in the process.

Compassion, gentleness, patience and understanding on behalf of the person you love could contribute to major improvements. If you just bottle the anger and embarrassment inside, your relationship will suffer. Not only will you consider experiencing premature ejaculation, you may also lose the person you love.

Finally, don’t hesitate to see the right urologist in %country%.

Because PE is such a common problem, urologists know how to tackle it in a personalized, effective way. Very often, the use of medications will not even be required. Behavioural therapy and experimentation with various techniques during intercourse will often be sufficient to decrease the prominence of premature ejaculation, make it occur less frequently or resolve the problem altogether.

Erectile Dysfunction

What is erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction (ED), is the inability to get and maintain an erection during sexual intercourse.  Erectile dysfunction is also known as impotence, and affects up to 150 million people with penises worldwide, and there are a large amount of cases found in %country%. While erectile dysfunction is embarrassing, there is medicine for erectile dysfunction that can help treat the condition.

While it is normal to experience some trouble maintaining an erection during sex, it is not normal to see these troubles happen frequently. For ED, frequently means that this erectile trouble takes place roughly 75% of the time, over a long period of time. However, ED may be situational and your penile troubles are due to another factor, such as stress or an undiagnosed illness. In these cases, it is important to cover with your doctor all of the medical issues that you may experience in order to give a more proper diagnosis of impotence.

What are the symptoms of ED?

The symptoms of erectile dysfunction are fairly cut and dry – it is categorised as trouble getting, maintaining an erection. People with erectile dysfunction may also experience a much lower sex drive and inability to orgasm.  An erection may also be seen, but it may not be held for long and may not be fully ‘hard’. These weak erections are signs of an underlying problem, and should not be ignored, no matter how embarrassing it is.

What is the cause of ED?

Erectile dysfunction unfortunately does not have one single cause, making it difficult to diagnose.  Erectile dysfunction can stem from physical, emotional, or hormonal issues. It can also be caused from a combination of these issues, making the identification of the problem even harder.

Physical causes of erectile dysfunction may include:

  • Heart Disease
  • Clogged blood vessels
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Usage of tobacco products
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Certain prescription medications (read side effects on the label of your medications!)
  • Peyronine’s disease
  • Substance abuse
  • Sleep disorders
  • Prostate issues

As mentioned earlier, there are also various psychological stressors that can cause erectile dysfunction.  These include:

  • Mental illness
  • Stress
  • Issues with your relationship that can lead to stress

Of course, if you are experiencing any sort of difficulty getting and maintaining an erection, it is important to talk to your sexual health doctor about the possible causes of your dysfunction.

If you don’t seek treatment for these symptoms, complications may arise. Complications, such as stress or anxiety, relationship issues, an unfulfilling sex life, or the inability to get your partner pregnant may occur due to your erectile dysfunction.

What are the risk factors for ED?

Like all other diseases, pre-disposal factors may put you at risk for ED. A bulk of these risk factors are preventable, such as avoiding cigarettes and tobacco products along with excess drug/alcohol use. The top risk factors for erectile dysfunction in men are:

  • Various medications
  • Obesity
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Psychological conditions
  • Poor circulations
  • Drug/alcohol use
  • Tobacco use
  • Lack of physical activity

A main risk factor is a lack of physical activity. By increasing physical activity, your risk of obesity and poor circulation will decrease, leaving you healthier and your ED may improve! A healthy diet and exercise can take care of most health related inconveniences, so that should be your first step in management.

Certain prescription medications also cause erectile dysfunction. Some medications that are available in %country%, such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety, antipsychotics, antihistamines, and high blood pressure medications all have impotence listed as a side effect. Medicine for Parkinson’s disease and chemotherapy also alter the ability to maintain an erection.

Recreational drugs such as alcohol, marijuana, heroin, and amphetamines also can lead to erectile dysfunction, so it is important to avoid any sort of inebriant during sexual intercourse.

How can I get tested for ED?

There are various tests performed by your urologist that can diagnose erectile dysfunction. If you feel as if your issues are not just situational, you should begin by making an appointment with your local urologist; from there you will be given a series of tests that will help determine the cause of your ED.

You will begin by being questioned about your sexual and medical history. Once you begin to realise that you may have impotence unrelated to a single situation, you should start keeping records of when you experienced impotence, and how long (if at all) you were able to maintain an erection. You should also list if you had consumed any substances that may contribute to impotence.

Expect to be greeted with a physical exam of your gonads to ensure that they look normal and there is no presence of abnormal swelling or discharge. Your doctor will also check for any presence of hair loss or enlarged breasts: these two possible issues point to an issue with your hormones.

Blood and urine tests may also follow, so expect to provide a urine sample as well as getting blood work taken. These tests will look for various diseases, such as diabetes, heart and kidney disease, and also be able to give you and your doctor an indication of your hormonal levels. In the instance of erectile dysfunction, the amount of testosterone present can make or break your erection. If you have an issue with your testosterone levels, hormone therapy is available.

There’s also the possibility of getting the injection test or overnight erection test if there have been no other explanations found for your ED. The injection test, or intracavernosal test, is when your doctor injects a substance directly into the base of your penis that should cause an erection. If you do not get an erection post-injection, then your ED is due to an issue with circulation in the penis, and there is evidence of issues with blood flow. With an overnight erection test, the number of erections that occur during sleep are measured through a medical device. This device is worn overnight, and records the amount of erectors that occur. This device will rule out any sort of physical issue, and shows that the ED is caused by a psychological issue.

An ultrasound and mental health examination may also occur, so be prepared to talk about any psychological stressors that you may be experiencing.

How do I treat ED, and is it curable?

There are a few routes you can take in order to get your erection back and working again. Thankfully, you have more than enough options. Simple lifestyle changes can do the trick or if the issue persists, medication is always a possible route covered by most insurance. Your urologist can help you decide the best therapy for you.

Medications

Viagra, or the little blue pill, is most likely the first drug to come to mind when you think about prescription medications for your ED. However, there are many more options on the market! Three main types of drugs are used when it comes to erectile dysfunction treatment: vasodilators, impotence agents, and pulmonary hypertension agents. All of these drugs are available in %country%, so be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about your options and what work best for you.

In the instance that your ED is due to a lack of blood flow to the penis, you are most likely going to be prescribed a vasodilator. As you can probably deduce from the name, a vasodilator is a drug that will promote the dilation of blood vessels, allowing for a larger amount of blood flow to reach your penis. The most popular generic drug for this class as alprostadil systemic, and is coined under the brand names Muse, Caverject, Edex, alprostadil, and Caverject Impulse. These all are only available with a prescription, so the only way to obtain a script for one of these is to talk to your doctor.

Impotence agents, or PDE5 inhibitors, are drugs specifically created to treat erectile dysfunction, and are not prescribed any other time. These also cause vasodilation by blocking the action of PDE5 on the smooth muscle cells of the penis, again allowing for a greater amount of blood flow to the penis. This class of drugs are the most widely available, as they were the first effective oral treatment for impotence. While these drugs seem ideal, they may be able to cause sudden hearing loss and nasal congestion. This class includes all of the aforementioned vasodilators, but also include our good friends Viagra, Cialis, the generic sildenafil systemic, Staxyn, Levitra, and another generic, vardenafil systemic.  All of these drugs cannot be mixed with alcohol, nor can they be obtained without a prescription from your doctor.

Lastly, we see the usage of pulmonary hypertension agents employed in the treatment for ED. While it is less commonly used, these drugs are only available with a prescription and reduce blood pressure in the lungs. By using these drugs, tadalafil systemic (generic) and sildenafil systemic (generic), blood pressure is reduced and there is less stress on the circulatory system, allowing for an erection to be maintained.

Lifestyle Changes

As we know, how you treat your body is how your body treats you. Since ED can stem from negative lifestyle choices, such as eating unhealthily or not exercising can cause ED. Thankfully, there are some small changes you can make to help overcome this issue.  These changes can be:

  • Perfecting your diet. In a Massachusetts Male Aging Study, it was found that eating a diet rich in vitamins and minerals (with less red and heavily processed meats) decreased the prevalence of ED.
  • Exercising your pelvic floor muscles. No, Kegels are not just for women!  Men can also partake in the Kegel exercise, which will help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and enhances rigidity in erections during sex.  By being able to hold this position, you will be able to keep blood from leaving your penis as you’re pressing on a major vein.
  • Make sure your vascular health is in balance. As most cases of ED are due to an issue with your circulatory system, so it is extremely important to make sure you eat and exercise correctly.  When your arteries and veins become to sluggish due to blockages from unnecessary fats.

Hormone Therapy

In the instance that your erectile dysfunction is due to low testosterone, hormone therapy is an option.  With this, you would be given testosterone replacement therapy, which would be given in the form of injections, skin patches, or tablets. This will allow for an increasing level of testosterone in the body, allowing for your erections to return to normal. It is extremely important that you only take what your healthcare provider recommends, and avoid any of the ‘testosterone boosting’ pills you may find at adult stores, gas stations, or elsewhere. These will not provide the same effects.

Conclusion

Thankfully, erectile dysfunction is easily diagnosed, treatable, and often times, preventable. All it takes to prevent situational erectile dysfunction is to stay out of stressful sexual situations, drink a little less, steer away from the drugs, and maintain your healthiest self. Even if you do your best, you have plentiful options for treatment, ranging from medication to testosterone therapy, or a simple tweak in your lifestyle. Treat yourself right, and your body will repay you!

HIV PrEP

HIV is a potentially – deadly immune disorder that leaves people at risk for cancer and even progression into AIDS. The disease leaves the person’s immune system significantly impaired. New treatments like PrEP reduce the chances of high-risk people from developing HIV.

For those that are, for any number of reasons, at high risk for contracting HIV, there are now treatment options that will significantly reduce the likelihood of developing this disease. While much has been done to educate and reduce the risk of developing the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), it is still an issue that many in %country% are dealing with.

Incidence, Symptoms, and Risk Factors for HIV

Regular std screening is highly important and where the first signs of a problem can be detected. There are many places in %country% that one can access free or reduced cost std screenings. There has been much emphasis put on educating people on the risk factors of HIV, but it still affects tens of millions of people worldwide.

The UN Global HIV and AIDS statistics fact sheet for 2018 shows that there are some 36.9 million people living with this disease in 2017. Of these tens of millions suffering from HIV, only 27.1 million suffering was getting treatment for the disease.

If you show any common HIV symptoms, you should consult a medical professional immediately for an HIV test. The sooner it is caught, or those who are at high risk are made aware, the less likely that severe adverse effects will result. What follows are some of the most common symptoms of HIV include:

  • Flu-like symptoms are one of the most common and fastest showing effects of the disease
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Night Sweats
  • Muscle aches
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes

This makes it difficult to diagnose as these symptoms are quite common with many other issues as well. If you are at high risk of developing HIV, it is recommended that you regularly get tested to ensure that it is caught. According to the US government website about the virus, some 1 in 7 people living with HIV in the US is unaware they have it. Not only does this put them at risk for further problems, but it also increases the likelihood that the disease will also be spread to others. When untreated, HIV can turn into full-blown AIDS, cancers, and other immunodeficiency disorders.

There are a variety of factors that will put someone at a higher risk of developing HIV. Where one lives in, works in, sexual partners, behavioural factors, and so on, will all play a role in the likelihood of someone developing this virus. Simply living in an area where there is a high incidence of people with HIV puts one at increased risk of getting the virus themselves. There are communities in %country% where there is a much higher than usual prevalence of HIV and these are the highest risk areas.

Sexual activity is, of course, one of the most common ways that the disease is spread, making women who have sex with men and gay men at a higher risk for HIV than other populations. This issue also seems to disproportionately affect communities of colour as well. Drug users, particularly those who use intravenously, are also at high risk. Sharing needles, outside of unprotected sex, is the most common way that HIV is transmitted to different people.

Though it is less common, HIV can also be transmitted via oral sex. Sometimes, a mother who has HIV may pass the virus onto her child in utero. Sharing food with someone who has HIV can rarely lead to the transmission of the virus through the exchange of oral fluids. Blood transfusions can also rarely lead to the transmission of the virus when the blood donor is unaware they have the virus. Additionally, exposure to bodily fluids from wounds or blood can also lead to the spread of the virus.

Prophylaxis Treatment

The virus, though scary and serious, does not have to be a death sentence. Medical breakthroughs and new treatments are making it easier than ever before for those who are at high risk of developing HIV, or who have already been infected, live a better, healthier, and safer life. One of the most promising treatments is what is called prophylaxis. There are two main types of prophylaxis treatments: HIV PrEP and HIV PEP.

We will be focusing on the first type of treatment for the bulk of this piece, so let’s first touch on what HIV PEP is. The word prophylaxis simply refers to a drug designed to prevent or protect the patient from disease. PEP refers to “post-exposure prophylaxis.” As the name implies, this is a treatment that is given to someone who has been exposed to HIV but has not yet developed the virus. In order for these medications to be effective, they need to be started no more than 72-hours after being exposed to the virus.

HIV PEP is not a treatment for those who are regularly exposed to the virus. It is intended as an emergency measure. The medications are more effective the sooner you begin taking them after being exposed to the virus. Most often, the drugs are taken for a 28 day period of time. This is, in no way, intended to be used as a prevention method. However, it is highly recommended that you seek HIV PEP treatment if you have been exposed to HIV through:

  • Sexual assault
  • Consensual intercourse
  • Sharing of needles
  • Exposure via work or other means

You will need to see a medical professional at various times throughout the treatment and once the course of medications is complete, you will be brought in for HIV and possibly other screenings to ensure that the treatment has been successful.

PrEP Treatment

HIV PrEP is a treatment option for people who have not been infected with the virus but are at high risk of developing the virus due to lifestyle and other factors. Basically, this is a preventative treatment that helps to reduce the likelihood of someone developing the virus even when at high risk for it. This is effective for people who have partners that have the virus but do not have it themselves.

Medication treatment, like Truvada, is taken daily as a means of preventing the virus from infecting the body. When taken as prescribed on a daily basis, these treatments are actually incredibly effective at preventing the transmission of the virus. These drugs can reduce the likelihood of getting the virus from sexual intercourse by some 90% and from intravenous drug usage by 70%. Doctors also note that when these drugs are combined with other preventative measures like condoms or clean needles, the risk of developing the infection is reduced even more.

PrEP treatment is ongoing for as long as one is exposed to the virus. It must be taken regularly and as prescribed for it to be effective. It is a daily medication and not akin to a vaccine. These drugs work by keeping enough of the medication in the bloodstream on a daily basis to fight off any exposure one might have to the virus. This is why skipping even one dose can significantly reduce the effectiveness of these drugs. It is imperative that they are taken daily, as prescribed.

These are relatively new drugs. A combination medication called Truvada was approved for use in 2012 by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). At this time, this is the only drug on the market that is approved as an HIV PrEP treatment. Many lawmakers in the US, and around the world, are calling for an increase in availability and education about HIV PrEP treatment options as they have been so effective at preventing the transmission of the infection from HIV-positive people to their partners.

There are few known side effects associated with PrEP drugs, which is definitely not the case with most HIV treatment options. Nausea is one of the only commonly reported side effects and this usually subsides as the body gets used to the medicine. There have been no noted long-term side effects from people who have been taking these drugs for as long as five years.

Studies surrounding the use and effectiveness of these prevention drugs find that lack of awareness and access are still major problems. Many people, particularly low-income individuals, sex workers, are unaware that these options exist and they may lack the resources to access this vital treatment. Lawmakers around the world will need to address to barriers to access via ignorance and lack of ability to afford said medications. There is hope that the widespread availability of these kinds of drugs could significantly reduce the transmission of the virus and reduce the negative impacts it has on society.

As of this writing, availability and awareness of these medications outside of the United States is lacking. These drugs have been found to be so effective, however, that the World Health Organization (WHO) issued new guidelines recommending the use of this treatment as an effective way to manage the world problem with HIV and AIDS.

These drugs have been shown to be incredibly cost-effective, especially when compared with the costs of HIV and AIDS treatment. When someone takes PrEP drugs, they take them for the duration of their exposure to the virus. If they change partners, quit doing drugs, move, etc., and are no longer at risk, they will be able to discontinue their use of the drug. For those who have already developed the virus, lifelong, often expensive, antiretroviral (ARV) drugs are required. It is obvious that prevention makes the most sense in both a fiscal and health sense.

In 2016, the UN General Assembly issued a declaration that they would provide some three million at-risk people with PrEP drugs by 2020. This is great, but it isn’t enough. And unfortunately, by the end of the year in 2016, only 100,000 people had signed up for this program. This is large because access to and awareness of this as a treatment option is incredibly limited outside of the US as noted above. Numerous other programs looking to expand access to and the availability of these drugs are underway in the US and many other places around the world.

It is also important to note that while PrEP drugs are highly effective at preventing people exposed to HIV from developing the virus, it is not effective protection from other sexually transmitted diseases and infections. Regular STD screenings are still highly recommended even for those who are taking these preventative drugs.

Through the years, HIV awareness has spread. Education has done much to inform people of what puts them at risk of developing this virus. However, while education has done much, there are still tens of millions of people who have this virus and countless more who are exposed to the virus on a yearly basis. New forms of treatment like HIV PEP and HIV PrEP drugs have the potential to significantly reduce the transmission and progression of HIV. These drugs help those who have been exposed or to those who may have partners that are HIV-positive from developing the virus themselves. These treatments are incredibly effective when taken as prescribed, saving countless lives and improving the outcomes for countless more.

Checking for Some of the Most Common STDs: Reliable Screening and Testing Options

More than one million sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are acquired every single day across the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports. Doing frequent STD tests is essential to minimize the spread of these infections.

Four common STDs dominate the infection landscape. Each year, 357 million people worldwide are infected with chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis or trichomoniasis. While significant medical advancements have been made, enabling the treatment of these conditions and other STDs, many people still don’t get tested. This is a serious problem because STDs often go asymptomatic for prolonged periods of time, increasing the risk of sexual partner infections.

There have been troublesome studies from %country%, as well as other parts of the world.

One clinical trial presented in the Journal of Adolescent Health found out that only 11.5 percent of adolescents and young adults got themselves checked for an STD over the past year. Of the individuals aged 15 to 25 who were sexually active and questioned in the survey, 42 percent said that they didn’t believe themselves to be at any risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection.

Social awkwardness about the topic, poor sexual education and the fact that STDs still largely come with some stigma attached all stand in the way of getting checked regularly.

The truth of the matter is, however, that checking for STDs has become simpler than ever in %country%. Every single sexually active person should be doing an STD test at least once per year, even if they’re not engaging in risky behaviours.

STD anonymous tests are available and in most instances, the results will become instantly available. If you’re still a bit hesitant about getting checked for common STDs, here’s everything you should understand.

Why Is Checking for STDs So Important?

Whether you’re in a monogamous relationship or you don’t have a steady partner, checking for common sexually transmitted infections annually is of utmost importance.

Here are some of the reasons why you need to go through the process regularly:

  • STD tests are efficient, reliable and accurate
  • They are readily provided through sexual health clinics in %country% and even through your general practitioner
  • A simple blood draw or a swab test will be sufficient to give you information about your status
  • Even if you don’t experience STD symptoms, you could still be infected
  • Even if you don’t experience STD symptoms, you could be passing the infection to a sexual partner
  • The earlier an STD is identified, the more efficient the treatment is going to be
  • In addition, some STDs can have serious consequences (like infertility, for example) if they’re untreated for prolonged periods of time
  • Many sexual health clinics can check for STDs free of charge – there’s no excuse even if your budget is limited
  • Even if you’re having protected sex, there’s still some minor risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection
  • If you have new partner or you engage in casual sex, you can’t take other people’s words for granted – you should both get checked out to ensure peace of mind

Are these reasons sufficient to have you heading to a sexual health clinic nearby? Let’s hope so! Getting checked for STDs is simple and mostly painless, its the treatments that maybe painful. Here are some of the common conditions you can get checked for and how each one of the screening sessions unfolds.

Checking for Gonorrhoea

Gonorrhoea ranks among the most common STDs. It is a bacterial infection that can spread through all kinds of sexual contact, including oral. Gonorrhoea happens to be most common among young people, affecting predominantly those in the 15 to 24 age range.

Some of the most common STD symptoms linked to gonorrhoea include:

  • A burning sensation during urination
  • White, yellow or green vaginal or penile discharge
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Swelling in the testicles
  • Soreness
  • Itchiness

These symptoms, however, are also common for other types of STDs. Thus, looking for STD testing near you is the best way to determine whether you’re dealing with gonorrhoea.

A gonorrhoea test involves the taking a sample either from the cervix in the case of women or from the urethra in the case of men. The swab will then be analysed for the presence of the bacteria.

While at home testing STD kits may be available in %country%, this isn’t the most reliable way to check for a gonorrhoea infection. The best approach would be to visit a clinic and do a STD test.

You don’t need to prepare in advance. The lab technician or physician at the clinic will know exactly what to do. They’ll guide you through the process and answer any additional questions you may have about the condition.

Keep in mind that when the gonorrhoea infection isn’t identified and treated, it can contribute to serious problems. In women, gonorrheas can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, the formation of scar tissue inside the fallopian tubes and an increased risk of ectopic pregnancies. In men, gonorrhoea increases the risk of infertility.

Since this is a bacterial infection, gonorrhoea can be cured via antibiotics administration.

Checking for Chlamydia

Checking for chlamydia in %country% is another simple process because this sexually transmitted infection also happens to be quite common.

This is another treatable sexually transmitted disease. Chlamydia is also very tricky because many of the people who get it will never exhibit STD symptoms. For those who do have signs, the common ways in which the infection expresses itself include:

  • Lower abdominal pain in women
  • Abnormal bleeding and vaginal discharge
  • Painful sex for women
  • Pain and burning during urination
  • Pus discharge from the penis
  • A swollen scrotum
  • Testicle tenderness

A swab test will once again have to be performed to collect a small sample from inside the vagina or the urethra. In some %country% sexual health clinics, a urine sample could be collected when checking for STDs like chlamydia.

Results typically become available within a week of getting checked. If you already have symptoms, chances are that the clinic will work harder to make the results available sooner so that both you and your partner(s) can get the required treatment.

Checking for Syphilis

Syphilis also ranks among the infections that can be treated effortlessly with antibiotics. If it’s not addressed soon after the infection occurs, however, the consequences can be serious.

The easiest way to check for a syphilis infection involves a blood draw. In this case, the screening will be looking for antibodies in your blood. If your body is making antibodies, you’re infected and additional testing will have to take place.

Keep in mind that even if you’ve had syphilis in the past and you were treated for it, the infection can occur again. Thus, you need to be checking for STDs every single year if you’re sexually active. Those who engage in risky behaviours (one night stands, unprotected sex) should be checking for STDs even more frequently – at least two times per year.

Syphilis blood test results could become available in as soon as a day. If you do test too soon, you may get a false negative. Your body needs a couple of weeks to begin forming antibodies. Hence, you may want to wait a month or two after unprotected contact to get checked for a syphilis infection.

Checking for Trichomoniasis

The symptoms of trichomoniasis are so similar to those of other sexually transmitted infections that a physical exam will be insufficient to diagnose the condition.

This infection is caused by a parasite and it tends to go asymptomatic in both men and women for prolonged periods of time.

Checking for trichomoniasis should occur at least 28 days after sexual contact since this is the length of the incubation period.

The test will once again involve the collection of a swab sample from inside the vagina for women or a urine sample for men. In the past, growing a culture was needed to identify the presence of the parasite. Today, screening options have become faster and much more reliable. Antigen tests are more accurate and they provide results within a very short period of time.

While trichomoniasis doesn’t contribute to significant complications, there’s one major exception. In pregnant women, it can contribute to premature delivery and other issues. Hence, if you are planning to get pregnant, you’ve seen a positive test or you suspect that you may be pregnant, doing a trichomoniasis screening will be of paramount importance.

Checking for Other STDs

While these are four of the most common STDs to check for, there are other sexually transmitted infections that you have to be aware of.

Places that offer STD anonymous testing options in %country% often develop packages that ensure screening for the most common infections out there. Apart from the ones already mentioned, such screening packages could also be checking for STDs like HIV, hepatitis mycoplasma genitalium and human papilloma virus (HPV).

If you want to get checked simultaneously for the most common sexually transmitted infections, you’ll typically have to go through a swab test and a blood sample will also need to be taken from you.

Depending on the types of STDs you’ll be checking for and the specifics of the screening option, the practitioner at the reproductive health clinic will give you a clear guideline about the amount of time required to get your results.

Usually, reproductive health clinics will advise their patients to go back and collect results in person rather than online.

Visiting the clinic for result analysis is a good choice if you have questions.

Many people find it difficult to interpret the screening results, especially if they get a positive test. Going back to the reproductive health clinic will give you a chance to consult a professional and understand the steps you’ll have to go through from that point forward.

Can You Get STD Screening for Free?

In %country%, there could be procedures that enable people to get checked for STDs for free.

For a start, look for reproductive clinics that have such services. While it may be impossible to get checked for all STDs free of charge, campaigns could be organised periodically to increase awareness and get people to test themselves most often. Free of charge HIV testing could also be typically available.

Going through your general practitioner and asking for a referral is another possibility for free of charge STD testing.

If your doctor says no, visit another practitioner and explain your reasons for wanting to get checked. Most responsible physicians will not turn away patients who want to have a diagnostic procedure done.

There’s one final option to keep in mind.

When you donate blood, the sample will always be checked for some of the most common viral sexually transmitted infections like HIV and hepatitis. You will be doing a good thing for somebody else and you’ll also get a free of charge check.

Finally, understand the fact that most STDs are curable. Even HIV is no longer a death sentence.

Hence, there’s nothing scary about getting checked for sexually transmitted infections. In fact, such basic and simple procedures could prove to be life-saving.

You owe it to yourself and to your partners to check for some of the most common health risks stemming from sexual activity. We live in a world where even protected sex could contribute to some risks. Don’t leave it to chance to determine if you’re going to be healthy and free from an STD. A reproductive health clinic near you has the answers. STD screening is painless, efficient, reliable and inexpensive. There’s really no excuse and if you haven’t gotten screened this year, the time may be right to schedule a visit.

STD Screening: Types, Procedures and Reliability

Eight pathogens cause the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the world. Of these STDs, four are curable, the World Health Organization reports. Syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis can be addressed through a timely diagnosis. Hepatitis B, herpes simplex virus (HSV) infections, HIV and human papillomavirus (HPV) infections cannot be cured. Still, even these viral conditions can be managed after a proper diagnosis.

Each year, millions of new sexually transmitted infections are registered across the globe. There are 131 million new chlamydia infections, 78 million new gonorrhoea cases, 143 million trichomoniasis and 5.6 million syphilis cases.

Accurate screening is widely available in %country%. This is the first step towards identifying the problem and seeking an adequate solution.

A sexual health clinic has the supplies and the trained staff needed to offer reliable and accurate screening services. Still, many people in %country% hesitate about getting tested because of the attached stigma or the fear of getting a positive result.

The screening process, regardless of the STD being targeted, is fast and simple. Since effective treatment and management options do exist, you owe it to yourself to get screening and ensure adequate measures to protect your health (and the wellbeing of your sexual partners).

If you’re not that familiar with the STD screening process or what it entails, the following guide will acquaint you with the essentials.

What Is STD Screening?

Different types of STD screening options exist and you should follow the guidelines that determine an optimal frequency of getting tested.

Annual chlamydia and gonorrhoea screening is recommended to:

  • Anyone who is sexually active
  • Individuals who engage in risky sexual behaviours – unprotected sex, one night stands
  • People who have multiple sexual partners
  • People who are diagnosed with another type of STI
  • Those who have become the victim of sexual abuse or assault

Sexual health clinics do these tests either through a urine sample or through a swab of the reproductive organs.

HIV, syphilis and hepatitis screening are recommended to the following groups of individuals at least once per year:

  • People who are positive for another STD (pre-existing sexually transmitted infections increase the risk for another condition developing)
  • People who have had more than one new sexual partner since the last time they’d gotten tested
  • Intravenous drug users
  • Men who engage in sexual activity with men
  • People who have become the victim of sexual abuse or assault
  • Women who are pregnant, who are planning to get pregnant or who may be undergoing fertility treatments in the future

A blood test will be used to identify these infections. Most general practitioners, diagnostic laboratories and sexual health clinics in %country% are capable of performing these tests.

Where Can You Get Screening?

STD screening is readily available in %country%. Doing a bit of online research will give you a good idea about the facilities where you can get tested.

One of the easiest first steps is to talk to your doctor. You’ll be referred to a medical establishment where you can get tested.

Free clinics may also exist, offering reliable, quick, simple and anonymous testing.

Free testing could also be available via national initiatives. The government in %country% has been working hard to increase awareness of different STDs, how they’re being spread and how common they are. Hence, national campaigns could be launched to offer free of charge testing in an array of medical establishment.

A final thing to keep in mind is that you’ll get STD screening whenever you donate blood. Hence, you’ll be doing a good thing and you’ll also learn a bit more about your status.

How Does STD Screening Work?

STD testing is quick and most of the time – painless. A blood draw could be a bit uncomfortable but it will be over very fast. Depending on the type of screening being performed, the results could be immediate or you may have to wait some time for the sample to be examined.

What exactly would happen during the STD screening itself? The answer will depend on the STD you’re getting tested for. A few of the possible steps include:

  • Producing a urine sample in a sterile cup
  • Having a physical exam
  • After the physical exam, a swab will be performed (on the inside of the vagina for women, men could be asked to produce a semen sample)
  • If a blood draw is required, a nurse or a lab practitioner will perform the procedure
  • Blood could be drawn from the vein in the arm or from your fingertip
  • If you have sores or open wounds in the genital region, these could be swabbed for screening purposes
  • STD screening could also be used to test vaginal discharge, cervical mucus, liquid from inside the urethra, anus or penis
  • Depending on the type of test, you may have to wait at the clinic to get instant results
  • If instant results aren’t available, you’ll have to visit a second time to get your results and an explanation of their meaning
  • Based on your STD test results, a healthcare practitioner will give you more information about safe sexual practices and the viable treatment options
  • If you test positive, you’ll either be referred to a medical practitioner or you’ll be prescribed a treatment option (like antibiotics, for example)

Less Common Types of STD Tests

As already mentioned, chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and trichomoniasis are quite common. HIV screening is also readily available at sexual health clinics.

In some instances, however, you may need to get screened for a less common condition. Here’s how it’s going to happen.

Genital Herpes Screening

Genital herpes is a viral infection that’s easy to transmit. You can get genital herpes from a partner that is asymptomatic at the time of intercourse.

Unfortunately, no reliable screening option for genital herpes exists at the time being in %country%. If you have ulcers, a doctor could take a sample to have it examined in a laboratory. Keep in mind, however, that a negative test isn’t always indicative of being free from a genital herpes infection.

Alternatively, a blood test can be ordered to detect a past infection with genital herpes. Once again, the results can be inconclusive. False positives and false negatives do occur often, which is why most sexual health clinics do not offer genital herpes screening.

HPV Screening

Human papillomavirus infections are incredibly common. Just like genital herpes, HPV can be transmitted by a person who doesn’t have any symptoms.

There are more than 100 types of HPV viruses, WHO reports. Fourteen of them are known to cause cervical cancer. Not all women who are infected will develop cervical cancer but the risk grows and regular screening will be required.

In 2018, 570,000 new cases of cervical cancer were diagnosed across the world. Seventy percent of these cancers were caused by two types of HPV viruses – HPV type 16 and HPV type 18.

A pap smear is used to collect a small cell sample from the cervix and check for the presence of HPV. Women between the ages of 21 and 65 are guided to have a pap smear every three years (if they haven’t gotten abnormal results in the past). The good news is that cervical cancer is relatively slow and non-invasive, which provides sufficient time for the selection of an adequate treatment option.

Other than pap smears, HPV blood diagnostic tests also exist. These are recommended to women over the age of 30 and to those who have gotten abnormal results in the past. The test provides information about the type of HPV and whether it’s classified as a virus increasing the risk of cervical cancer development.

What Happens if Your Result Is Negative?

Congratulations, you don’t have an STD.

Even if you get a negative result, it may still be a good idea to visit a sexual health clinic to discuss the outcome of the screening and safe sexual practices.

There are options for getting vaccinated against some of the common viruses causing HIV. Hepatitis and HPV vaccines do exist. Talking to a clinician will give you a better idea about whether you’re a suitable candidate for getting vaccinated.

Anyone engaging in risky sexual practices should also consider possibilities like PrEP. The term stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis and this is a drug treatment administered over the course of a specified time period to reduce the risk of HIV infections in the event of unsafe sexual contact.

Individuals who should consider preventative options like PrEP include people who are not in mutually monogamous relationships, gay and bisexual men who have multiple partners, heterosexual individuals who engage in risky sexual behaviours.

When you visit a sexual health clinic, you’ll also be told about the optimal period for going through STD screening again.

What if I Get a Positive Result?

STD screening is the first diagnostic option available to the general public.

Most types of screening tests detect the presence of antibodies rather than the actual virus/disease causing agent itself.

If the first screening test is positive, you will typically be referred for additional testing. These additional tests are more complex and they attempt to identify the virus itself. Through a second test, the first result will either be confirmed or rejected.

Finding out that you have an STD could seem like the rest of the world.

Understand the fact, however, that most STDs can be managed and controlled today.

Even HIV treatments have gone a long way since those early days, increasing the life expectancy of HIV positive individuals significantly.

Even if a clinic offers an online results option, it would be best to visit.

Discussing your results with a clinician will give you a better idea about what a diagnosis entails and what your next step should be. Your doctor will give you an overview of the medical condition, its progression and whether a treatment is possible through the use of antibiotics or anti-viral agents.

You will also be advised about lifestyle changes. You will need to get in touch with current and former sexual partners to inform them about your diagnosis and prompt them to get tested, as well.

People who have an STD can be in a relationship and they can enjoy a healthy sex life. Awareness and taking the right precautionary measures, however, will be required to stay on the safe side. Having an STD isn’t something to be ashamed of. Millions of people live with a sexually transmitted infection and they enjoy a wholesome existence. While a change in mindset will be required, a positive diagnosis is not the end of the world.

Conclusion

STD screening is not scary. Getting your results shouldn’t be frightening, either.

The sooner you find out that something’s wrong, the easier the condition will be to treat. Knowing your status is also vital if you’re sexually active. As a human being, you carry responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of your sexual partners.

A sexually transmitted infection can be controlled through modern medications and treatment methods.

There’s no need to worry about being judged or ostracised due to the fact you’re getting tested. Such responsible actions are commendable. In addition, health clinics carry out STD screening anonymously. You’re the only person who will be aware of the results and it’s up to you to divulge the information to people in your life.

It’s imperative to get tested before you start experiencing symptoms. Making STD screening an annual routine will give you peace of mind. In addition, visiting a reproductive health clinic could also increase your awareness of safe practices and routines you can introduce in your life to reduce the risk of exposure or eliminate it altogether.

STD Testing

People who are sexually active, especially those with multiple partners, are recommended to undergo STD testing to determine if they are free from any types of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs). Early detection of STD symptoms will help you find immediate treatment to avoid it from progressing into serious medical conditions which merely starts as an infection.

Sexually transmitted diseases or STDs, also called venereal diseases, refers to medical infections that are spread through sexual intercourse. There are various types of STDs that could be transmitted from one person to another which includes HIV-AIDS.

Although STD and STI both refer to medical conditions transmitted through sexual contact, the terms do not necessarily mean the same thing. For instance, not all people can experience gonorrhoea symptoms despite getting infected with bacteria. This means that not all sexually transmitted infections will develop into a disease. In some instances, people with STIs are healed while those who get treatment for STD will transition from the disease to a mere infection. In short, having an STI doesn’t mean that you have STD.

In order to get tested, you should not be embarrassed to ask for a test. The information that you will give to your doctor can help them determine your symptoms and the type of test you should undergo. You need to be honest about your sex life so that the medical practitioners in %country% will be able to figure out which tests are best for you. You do not need to worry about being honest to your physician especially one specialising in STD testing and treatment because they have seen it all. In fact, presenting yourself for an STD test is actually a positive thing since this shows that you value yourself and your health.

Who Should Be Tested for STD

Individuals with sexual relations, including those who are sexually active and have multiple partners, need to get tested from time to time. This is important in order to avoid the transition of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) into diseases since it can be fatal when left untreated. People who are involved in the following needs to get tested:

  • Unsafe sexual intercourse (does not use condoms, etc)
  • Having multiple partners
  • About to start a new relationship or going into a marriage
  • Cheating partner by having another partner or multiple sexual partners
  • Experience STI symptoms
  • Currently pregnant (pregnant women can pass STIs to their developing baby)
  • Forced to have sexual intercourse or do other sexual activity

Those who are involved in mutually monogamous relationships do not need to undergo regular STD testing. But if you want to be sure, you can get tested before embarking into a new relationship especially that you are not totally aware of your partner’s sexual life before you got together. It is better to be safe than risk your lives.

Specific STDs You Can Be Tested For

You need to know the different STDs that you can get tested for in %country%. Before deciding which test to take, you need to talk to your doctor so they can help you determine the type of test you need. Quite often, an STD clinic provides these services. Also, you need to be knowledgeable about the symptoms for particular STDs so that you are aware of your condition. You can be tested for one or more of the following:

  1. Chlamydia. This is the most commonly reported STD in most %country%. Often times, people who have chlamydia will not have any noticeable symptoms at once. However, it can cause discomfort or pain during urination or sexual intercourse, green or yellow discharge, and pain in the lower abdomen.
  2. Gonorrhoea. Also known as “the clap,” this is another common bacterial STD which can infect the mouth, throat, eyes, and rectum. It becomes life-threatening once it spread to the blood and joints. Gonorrhoea symptoms include a discharge from the penis or vagina, frequent urination, itching around the genitals, sore throat, and pain or discomfort during sex or urination.
  3. Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). HIV or human immunodeficiency virus causes AIDS resulting in a weakened immune system since the blood cells that fight infection are killed by the virus. When this happens, the body’s ability to fight off and recover from infections is compromised. Not everyone who gets HIV develop AIDS. The early symptoms of HIV include fever, sore throat, chills, headache, body aches, nausea, swollen lymph nodes, and rashes. The symptoms are oftentimes mistaken for flu but after a few months, people with HIV can experience fevers, stomach issues, headaches, and recurrent fatigue.
  4. Hepatitis B. Hepatitis B virus or HBV can cause serious liver infection leading to diseases like cirrhosis, liver failure, cancer, and even death. It can be spread through sexual contact, bodily fluids, and contaminated needles that are used for tattooing, piercing, and injecting intravenous drugs.
  5. Syphilis. The early signs of syphilis are chancre which is a painless genital sore that appears on the genitals. Oftentimes, chancres disappear on their own but the infection remains in the body. If left untreated, it can spread to other organs of the body like the heart, blood vessels, liver, bones, skin, and joints. There is also a possibility that syphilis rash will break out in later stages.
  6. Trichomoniasis. This is also known as “trich” wherein only a few people can develop symptoms for this disease. When symptoms appear, it includes discharges, burning or itching around the genitals, painful urination, discomfort during sexual intercourse, and genital soreness.
  7. Genital Herpes. The condition genital herpes is caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus which may result in either HSV-1 or HSV-2. People with this virus will not show any symptoms but it can cause the appearance of fever blisters or cold sores on the lips for HSV-1. On the other hand, those with HSV-2 will see watery skin blisters around their anus or genitals.
  8. HPV. Human Papillomavirus or HPV is a common STI which causes genital warts and may infect other areas of the body like the mouth and throat. It can also lead to cancer of the mouth, anus, penis, vulva, and cervix.

Determining the Right STD Test for You

Since most of the STDs do not show symptoms, it is important that you consult your doctor about it especially if you fall under one of the categories for people with high risks in getting sexually transmitted diseases. You can determine the type of test you need if :

  • You are having visible symptoms like Gonorrhoea symptoms
  • You or your partner had STD before
  • You, your partner or both of you have multiple sexual partners
  • The type of sexual activity you engage in like oral, anal and vaginal sex
  • You do not use protection like condoms
  • You are exposed to contaminated needles

The above-mentioned information will help you and your doctor figure out the type of test that you can undergo. It is important that you do not withhold any information since this will not only help you identify the right STD test for you but it can also help you get proper treatment.

How STD Testing Works

If you have the STD symptoms in a particular medical infection, you need to tell your doctor about it so that you can undergo the proper test. Here’s how each test are done for specific STDs:

For chlamydia and gonorrhoea

Once you have chlamydia and gonorrhoea symptoms, you need to undergo STD testing. The screening is done either through a urine sample or a swab inside the penis in men or from the cervix in women. The samples will be taken to a laboratory for testing which may take a few days or weeks before the results are out.

For HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis

People who are at high risk of STD needs to get yearly HIV testing. This includes men who have sex with men, people who have multiple partners, and those who already tested positive for another STI.

HIV test is done through a blood sample or a swab inside the check. The samples will be taken to the laboratory and it would take days or weeks before you get the results.

If you want a quick test, rapid HIV tests are available wherein you can get the results in just a matter of 20 minutes.

When getting tested for HIV, you need to be aware of the “window period” which is the time duration wherein you may get a false-negative result even if you have HIV. The presence of HIV in your body will trigger your immune system to make antibodies to fight off the infection. But it would take 3 months before these antibodies will show up in the HIV test. Hence, if you test negative for the first time, it is recommended that you get tested again after a few months to make sure that you are HIV free.

The results of your test are protected by privacy laws which means that you can get confidential testing or anonymous testing. For confidential testing, your name is on the test and the results will be part of your medical record which will then be sent to your doctor and your insurance company. You can also choose to get anonymous testing which means that your name will not appear in the test and it will not be included in your medical records.

For syphilis, a blood sample or a swab from the genital sores will be taken for analysis in the laboratory which will usually take 3-5 days. One needs to give a blood sample in order to get tested for hepatitis. The symptoms for Hepatitis B will appear from 6 weeks to 6 months after you get infected. Hence, it is recommended that you get tested again despite getting a negative result especially if you experience symptoms. The lab results are usually available after 1 to 2 days.

For HPV

For men, HPV is diagnosed by visual inspection or through a biopsy of genital warts. For women, HPV testing is different since it could involve a pap smear test or an HPV test. Pap smear tests will help to check abnormal cells in the cervix. This test is recommended for women yearly or every three years. Usually, the lab results for pap smear are available after two weeks. Meanwhile, HPV test results may take longer before it is released. This test is intended for women over 30 years of age. Pap test and HPV test are usually done at the same time by collecting cells from one’s cervix.

For herpes and genital warts

A physical exam is usually done to diagnose herpes and genital warts by checking your genital area for warts, blisters, rashes, sores, irritation and for discharge. Samples can also be taken from infected areas which are sent to the laboratory for testing. It is imperative that you inform your doctor about certain changes that you notice in your body and around your genitals. You also need to inform your doctor if you engage in anal sex so they can check your anus for some bumps, sores, and other STD symptoms.

Where To Get Tested

You can get STD testing in %country% at your regular doctor’s office or a sexual health clinic. You can also visit government health centers and even offices of organisations that are advocates of educating people about STDs.

Before getting a test, it is recommended that you search for places where you can get it in %country%. Take note that some tests can be availed free of charge especially in health centers. If you check free tests first prior to going to your doctor, you can definitely save money.

Bottom Line

People who have STD symptoms need to consult the doctor at once in order to verify their medical infections. In most cases, untreated STIs and STDs will lead to more serious conditions like infertility, cancer, blindness, organ damage and other life-threatening diseases. Hence, getting tested is very important for you and your partner. Before seeing a doctor, talk to your partner about the symptoms you feel and your plan of getting tested. It is better if both of you will do the test to ensure protection.

Since sexually transmitted infections and diseases are common, testing is available in many areas in %country%. Do not hesitate to visit a doctor or any health professional since they are more than willing to help. You can also get more information about the different types of STDs, its symptoms and the potential benefits and risks of STD testing. There is no need to worry about privacy either since all your information will be kept from public access.