No doubt, detecting the presence of an STD requires that a scientific test is done using designated diagnostic tools. Without these tests, it will be very tedious to manage an STD. Pleasantly enough, diagnostic tools and techniques have evolved into modern, super-efficient ones that measure up to 99.9% accuracy in sensitivity and specificity.
One thing that can burst the bubble for testing techniques, apart from errors in reading or errors from contaminants in test samples, is the testing time for an STD. Testing time could actually mean the difference between a false or true reading.
Below are some of the STDs and their ideal time for testing:
Getting tested for chlamydia should be done as soon as you feel you have contracted the infection or as soon as you start noticing some symptoms associated with it. A repeat test is advised for a person who had sex less than 14 days (or 2 weeks) before getting tested with a home test kit or in a hospital.
This is because the average time it takes for Chlamydia trachomatis to incubate is between 2 to 3 weeks after sexual intercourse with an infected person. This makes regular testing a necessity; it is more economical and convenient to have it done at home with a test kit for chlamydia.
It takes Neisseria gonorrhea 2 to 6 days to incubate. This is when symptoms, if any, would show in the body of the infected person. Without symptoms showing, it is also important to have oneself tested for gonorrhea after a suspected exposure. It is best to test for gonorrhea 2 days after initial exposure. However, the most accurate result is acquired when testing is done 2 weeks after prior exposure.
A culture test to detect the presence of herpes simplex virus should be done within 48 hours (2 days) after exposure to the virus.
For a test needing a blood sample, the result is usually ready after 3 months. The blood test aims at determining the Immunoglobulin G antibodies level in the blood. These antibodies are produced by the body in response to the presence of the herpes simplex virus. It takes time for the body to produce Immunoglobulin G antibodies hence the 3 months’ time-frame given.
Hepatitis A, B, and C
It takes the hepatitis A virus a period of 28 days to reveal symptoms in an infected person from the time of first exposure. For best results, testing should be done 2 to 7 weeks after initial exposure. This is either through unprotected sexual intercourse or from eating contaminated food prepared by an infected person.
Testing for hepatitis B can be done 3 weeks after exposure to the virus. The test will give a more accurate result when done 6 weeks after the initial exposure.
For hepatitis C, testing within 8 to 9 weeks after first exposure yields an accurate result.
A blood test can detect the presence of syphilis as early as 7 to 14 days after initial exposure. For best results, tests should be done within 3 months after exposure. Also, when there is an ulcer or a sore on an infected person, syphilis can be tested for at its earliest stage using a dark-field microscopy technique.
Human papillomavirus (HPV)
After getting tested for the presence of HPV by using an HPV high-risk test and a Pap test, you will be required to go for a retest in 12 months’ time if you tested negative to HPV. This period gives the virus time to act on cells, especially the ones in a woman’s cervix.
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
A vaginal culture for BV can be done within 2 days after symptoms are noticed.
It takes Trichomonas vaginalis between 5 to 28 days to present with symptoms that could likely be there in an infected person. For best results, test 3 weeks after initial exposure.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
With an HIV RNA test, HIV can be detected after 2 weeks of a risky exposure to it. With a 4th generation HIV antigen-antibody test, 95% of the virus can be detected 4 weeks after someone’s exposure to it. If the test result comes out negative, a confirmatory test needs to be done 3 months after the 4th generation test. It takes HIV 3 months to be significantly present in the blood of an infected person.
Testing for an STD too early or too late, in some cases, can give false results. The test machine or kit has taken some undeserved blame as being substandard. Some organisms can go into latency at their earliest stage or last phase. That is why testing should be done at the time stipulated for it, with or without known symptoms. Even after treating an STD, it is best not to go too soon for a retest to ascertain your wellness. It is possible that the dead organisms could be detected as viable organisms, giving a false positive result for an already treated case.