Basic Procedure for STD Testing

Sexually transmitted diseases are prevalent in the United Kingdom, making it important for a sexually active adult to have regular sexual check-ups to identify and diagnose STDs. There are several methods to test for sexually transmitted diseases (or sexually transmitted infections), but the primary method is through a physical examination. Many STDs, such as genital herpes, syphilis or genital warts can be detected with a free, confidential physical examination at a local sexual health clinic, hospital or genitourinary medicine clinic (GUM clinic). The following STDs are usually diagnosed when symptoms are visible.

Physical Exam

Genital Warts
A general practitioner or nurse at a health clinic will conduct a physical examination to look for symptoms of disease. Caused by a strain of the human papilloma virus (HPV), genital warts usually result is visible warts on the vulva, cervix, or wall of the vagina. A more thorough internal examination may be needed if symptoms are not readily apparent.

Another method of testing for genital warts is through a biopsy for closer analysis. A doctor may also use a magnifying lens (colposcope) to examine warts. Warts can be treated with cream or liquid at home or in the clinic. Other treatments include freezing (cryotherapy) or heat (electrocautery), surgery, laser treatments or drug injections.

Crabs or Pubic Lice
A doctor or nurse will conduct a physical examination to look for lice and eggs. He or she may use a magnifying glass or analyze crabs under a microscope to confirm their diagnosis. Pubic lice are commonly treated through the use of simple creams, lotions or shampoos on affected areas.

Genital Herpes
A doctor or nurse will conduct a physical examination to look for the primary symptom of genital herpes, blisters. If the blisters are not apparent, the doctor may send the patient to a specialist in a genitourinary medicine clinic for confirmation of the diagnosis. At the GUM clinic, a blister is virologically analyzed. This entails taking a sample of the blister and examining it under a microscope.

If there is no presence of blisters but an infection is suspected, it is also possible to perform a blood test, which will look for herpes simplex antibodies. It is thought that this test is only about 85% accurate, though.

Blood, Urine or Cell Samples

The testing and diagnosis of chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, Trichomonas Vaginalis, the HIV virus, genital warts and genital herpes require either blood, urine or cell samples to be taken and analyzed.

Chlamydia can be detected by a urine test or swab sample from the urethra, the cervix, rectum, throat or eye. A visible symptom of chlamydia is inflamed cervix cells or a discharge. Chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics.

Gonorrhoea can be diagnosed through a cell sample taken from the cervix, urethra, rectum or throat or a urine sample. The sample will be left to culture for a few days before being assessed for the signs of the bacteria that causes gonorrhea. Gonorrhoea is treated with a dose or doses of antibiotics.

Syphilis can be detected through a blood and urine sample, cell sample, or physical examination of the genitals and body. A cell sample is taken from infected areas such as the cervix, genital area, penis, urethra, anus or mouth. The treatment of syphilis is an antibiotic injection or antibiotic medicine. Penicillin is a common treatment for syphilis.

Trichomoniasis is caused by the parasite Tricohomonas Vaginalis. Trichomoniasis, or trich, can be detected in a physical examination when an unusual discharge is apparent or during a routine cervical smear test. Another method to test for this STD is through a urine sample or a cell sample from the vagina, genital area or urethra. The treatment for this STD is a dose of antibiotics.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
The primary detection of HIV is through a blood sample to test for HIV antibodies in the blood. If HIV antibodies are found, the patient is HIV positive. Another test is conducted to confirm diagnosis. The current treatment for the HIV virus is antivirus drugs, antiretroviral treatment or combination therapy. However, there is no cure for HIV and typically this virus leads to AIDS. With the use of antiretroviral drugs, though, people with HIV can significantly prolong their life as well as the put off the development of AIDS.

For all of the STDs listed above, a sexually active adult should submit themselves to testing as soon as symptoms arise, if not immediately after any unprotected sex or sexual activity. Although sexual testing and screening can be intimidating, it is vitally important to have frequent sexual check-ups.

Sexually active adults have the right to free, confidential information about sexual health and safe, adequate treatment and care. There are a variety of educational resources to choose from through the internet, local health clinics and hospitals.

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