The World Health Organisation estimates that more than one million sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are acquired daily worldwide. Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis are some of the leading STDs. Many STDs begin in a mild manner, and sometimes do not produce any symptoms until the disease has reached an advanced stage. Therefore, many people remain unaware that they are infected, leaving their condition untreated. At an advanced stage, STDs have serious and potentially life-threatening consequences for infected people. Remaining undetected also increases the likelihood of disease transmission.
Fortunately, research has provided us with numerous ways of detecting STDs, even when symptoms are not evident. Such technology enables people to get tested early and obtain treatment, thus limiting the spread of STDs and the ill-effects arising from disease complications.
Detection methods vary depending on the causative agent of the STD. Here we will discuss the two main methods that are used in our STD Rapid Test Kits.
Bacterial protein detection
This method is used in our Chlamydia and Gonorrhea test kits. Chlamydial infection is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. Gonorrhea is caused by another bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoeae. The test requires a sample obtained using a cotton swab applied to the suspected initial site of infection (the urethra in men and the vaginal wall in women). The swab enables the collection of infected cells or discharge, which contain the causative bacteria. Gentle swabbing is sufficient to obtain the sample. By applying the sample to the test kit according to kit instructions, the test cassette can detect the presence of a particular protein that is present on the cell surface of the bacteria. These proteins vary depending on the bacteria, hence different test kits are specific for different bacteria.
Chlamydial and gonorrhoeal infections can be cured with antibiotics. Keep in mind that having a previous chlamydial or gonorrhoeal infection does not protect you from becoming re-infected in future. Constant vigilance is required to protect yourself from re-infection. You must also take steps to obtain treatment early if you test positive for chlamydial and/or gonorrhoeal infection, to avoid long-term complications of infection, such as pelvic inflammatory disease.
This method is used in most of our test kits, namely for: Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and syphilis. The first three diseases are caused by viruses, while syphilis is caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum.
When our body is infected by microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, viruses), the immune system produces antibodies that bind to the microorganisms or infected cells (in the case of viral infections). This binding assists in the removal of the invading microorganisms. The presence of these antibodies can also serve as a marker of past or current infection.
Antibody levels vary depending on when the infection took place, and whether the infection has been cleared. It also takes the body some time to generate antibodies in response to infection. Therefore, the sensitivity of antibody detection tests is affected by a “window period”, which varies depending on the type of infection. The window period is the space of time between when infection takes place and when antibody levels are detectable. An infection may be missed by a test during this window period, as antibody levels are not yet high enough for detection. As such, if you suspect an infection even though you obtain a negative test result, it is possible that the infection is still in the window period. To be certain that the infection is not present, you should repeat the test after the window period is over. Seek your physician’s advice if you are concerned about the window period.
Antibody detection tests require a blood sample. Whole blood, serum, or plasma are all appropriate for such tests.
Syphilis is curable with antibiotics. Like chlamydial and gonorrhoeal infections, previous syphilis infection does not protect you from re-infection, and you must continue to take steps to ensure that re-infection does not take place, and to seek treatment immediately if re-infection does occur. Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV infections are lifelong, as no cure for these infections exists yet. However, treatment regimens are available to keep the disease in check. Early treatment will limit the damage caused by these infections, and help infected people maintain a high quality of life and normal life expectancy.
Can I be infected with more than one STD (co-infection)?
Co-infections of STDs are quite common. For instance, it has been estimated that up to 50% of gonorrhoeal infections are accompanied by chlamydial infections. HIV co-infection with syphilis is also common. Co-infections can have an impact on treatment outcomes and disease progression. If you suspect you may have more than one STD, our Combo test kit bundles provide the multiple testing methodologies you need to detect different STDs. Our test kits provide reliable and accurate results within 15 minutes and are safe and easy to use.