Getting Tested: When & How to Get Tested for STDs & HIV

Infections constitute a serious physical risk to your health. These infections come in different forms like sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

What is an STD?

STDs, or sexually transmitted diseases, are infections that get passed on from one person to another through a sexual act like oral, anal, or vaginal sex. They are among the most contagious diseases in the USA.

Bacteria, a virus, and even a parasite can cause an STD. The most common bacterial infection includes chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea. HIV, genital herpes, genital warts, and hepatitis B are the most common viral STDs.

The proper diagnosis and treatment of STDs are highly essential.

When to get tested for an STD?

You should get tested for STD when you have unprotected sex, multiple sex partners, if your partner has multiple partners, have sex with an IV drug user or with a sex worker, had an infection in the past, or have symptoms of STD-like pain or burning sensation while urinating, blood discharge from your genitals, and itching in the anal area.

How to get tested for STD?

A healthcare professional will test you for STD through a blood sample, urine sample, a swab taken from inside your mouth, or a swab of any discharge from your genital area.

They will then send your sample to the lab for examination, and based on the test results, the doctor will prescribe the necessary medication.

What is HIV?

HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is a form of STD caused by a virus. This virus spread through body fluid and affects the immune system of the body. The body is no longer able to fight infections, and gradually it leads to AIDS, or acquired immunodeficiency system.

Once a person is contracted with HIV, it affects the CD4 cells that are crucial for fighting infection. If untreated, it gradually decreases the CD4 cells in the body, thus making the person more prone to infections. Over time, the virus destroys CD4 cells, making the person unable to fight infection. If a person is afflicted with any diseases like cancer, his body will not be able to resist it, and he eventually collapses.

No cure has been developed for AIDS. But HIV can be kept under control through a therapy called Antiretroviral therapy.

When to get tested for HIV?

You should get tested for HIV if you had sex with an HIV positive partner, have more than one sexual partner, have injected drugs and have shared the needle with others, have diagnosed and treated for any other STD, and develops any of the below symptoms.

Symptoms of HIV

The most common symptoms of HIV are fever, headache, sore throat, body pain, night sweats, joint or muscle pain and swollen lymph nodes, and ulcers in the mouth or genitals.

How to get tested for HIV?

Testing for HIV is the only way to find out whether or not you have contracted this disease.

HIV antibody test

This is a blood test conducted to figure out whether your body has developed any antibodies to fight HIV type 1 and 2. If these antibodies are present in the blood, then it means that you are HIV positive. It would take 3-12 weeks for the antibodies to appear in your blood after infestation. This is called a third generation test and is considered outdated.

HIV antibody / antigen test

This is a blood test conducted to figure out whether or not the body’s immune system has developed antibodies to fight HIV type 1 and 2 as well as antigens of the HIV virus.

This is a fourth-generation test that replaced the third generation. Usually, the body takes some time to produce the antibody whereas P24 antigens are part of the HIV virus. Thus, if the person is infected with HIV, then the P24 antigen will be present in the blood even though the level of antibodies is not very high.

HIV RNA test

Unlike both the previous tests, this test looks for genetic material that causes HIV and not antibodies and antigens. Hence, this test helps in very early detection of HIV, as early as 9-11 days.

All pregnant women should take the HIV test. This will not only help in the proper detection and treatment but also prevents the virus from being transmitted from mother to child.

Once you are tested positive, you should immediately start HIV treatment. The HIV treatment options available are antiretroviral therapy and medications which prevent the HIV virus from multiplying.

For more information

The best way to prevent the onset of STD and HIV is to protect yourself from exposure. For more information, contact ARcare at (866) 550-4719 to speak with a healthcare professional.

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