Rapid and at-home testing for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) has been developed to save patients the time, effort and stress of testing. They detect a variety of infections: gonorrhoea, chlamydia, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Some rapid STD tests are carried out in a doctor’s surgery or clinic, while others can be done in the privacy and comfort of your own home.
These tests are designed to address one of the most common problems faced by STI clinics. These are the people who do not come back for their test results. For those who work in such clinics, the terrible reality is that people are tested but are too scared to face the results.
As a result, infections can go untreated, increasing the risk of consequences for the patient and the possibility of spreading the disease to others.
Which infections can the rapid test detect?
At home, it is possible to test for a variety of sexually transmitted diseases, including:
- Hepatitis B
- Many other bacteria and viruses – read more here
Accuracy provided by the SPB rapid test
Not every rapid test is the same, some are more sensitive and work differently than others. They are distinguished according to the following two categories:
- The ability of a test to accurately identify people who have the disease is called sensitivity (true positive rate).
- The ability of a test to accurately identify people who do not have the disease is called specificity (true negative rate).
Rapid SPB tests have average sensitivity and specificity when tested during an acute infection (actual values vary between manufacturers – always check before buying):
- Chlamydia has a sensitivity of 86% and a specificity of 97%.
- Gonorrhoea has 97% specificity, 86% sensitivity
- Hepatitis B: 97% sensitivity and 100% specificity
- Herpes simplex: sensitivity 93 %, specificity 99,9 %
- HIV (home, oral swab): 92 % sensitivity, 100 % specificity
- Human papillomavirus(HPV): 94 % specificity, 87 % sensitivity
- Syphilis: sensitivity 85%, specificity 91%
The SPB rapid test provides findings in minutes instead of days. Some people may prefer home testing because it can be done privately and avoids the discomfort or “humiliation” of testing in a clinic.
If the test results are positive (meaning you have been infected), you can start treatment immediately. For diseases such as HIV, this is crucial, as early treatment leads to a lower risk of disease and a longer life expectancy.
The latest tests also seek to remove another barrier that many individuals face: needles and blood. The rapid test may only take a swab of body fluid or a urine sample, depending on the condition.
Unfortunately, a reduced level of sensitivity increases the likelihood of a false negative. This means that a person is informed that they do not have the virus when they do have it. To put this into context, the current HIV test available at home has an average sensitivity rate of 92%, which equates to one false negative result out of every 15 tests.
This is why many bacterial infections (such as syphilis, gonorrhoea and chlamydia) require a PCR test instead of a rapid test – which is what NYD Diagnostics offers.
Validation of Test Results
If the rapid test is positive for STIs, consult your healthcare provider immediately. Another test will almost certainly be needed to confirm your findings. If the second test is also positive, you should start treatment immediately.
Home STD tests can quickly tell if you have chlamydia, gonorrhoea or a range of other sexually transmitted diseases. These tests can be done in the comfort of your own home and provide instant results. Unfortunately, home STD tests are not as accurate as those carried out by a doctor. Even if you are infected, the test can be negative. Discuss this with your doctor.
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