Are your sexually active? Are you conversant with the consequences of getting an STD? Do you know your status? Depending on your answers, you might want to keep reading.
Let’s say you’re considering getting tested, but the thought of going to a health facility is off-putting. Well, you can order an std testing kit and get it over with wherever you are – that way, you don’t have to go through the anxiety and hassle of scheduling an appointment, driving to the clinic, and so on.
Various testing kits are available in the market. Some are free, while others come at a fee. That said, it’s advisable to find a kit that suits your needs. There are different testing kits for different STDs. For example, if you want to be tested for HIV, go for an HIV home test kit. Let’s look at how various home test kits work based on the conditions they check for.
To test for HIV at home, you need to order the kit at least three months following exposure to the virus. This is because it takes that long for the virus to be detectable in your system. Most test kits come with full instructions on how to use them.
For instance, the FDA-approved OraQuick test kit features a test stick you can use to get a sample by swabbing your gums. Once you do, insert the stick into the provided test tube or vial containing a fluid. Then, you can check the result in 40 minutes or so. The test helps check for HIV antibodies and is available online or at a local pharmacy.
Other over-the-counter kits offer a different approach. For instance, some require you to prick your finger to provide a blood sample. The finger-prick method also works when testing other STIs, such as gonorrhea and syphilis. You then have to mail the sample to a lab and wait 7-10 days for results. Some providers offer you an anonymous PIN, which you can use to check your results on their website.
If you don’t mind sharing your contact details, some HIV test kit providers will give you a call to share the results. Some will also provide counseling services to help you in case of a positive diagnosis.
A home HIV test isn’t always accurate. Case in point, the OraQuick test misses an HIV infection in 8% of cases. You’re also unlikely to get a false positive result with this test. But, whatever result you get, view it as preliminary. This implies you need to schedule a second test – preferably at a medical clinic – for confirmation. And if you test positive, your doctor can help you get appropriate care.
Tests for chlamydia are usually lab-based. You can go about it in one of two ways: by providing a urine or blood sample. A blood test can detect chlamydia trachomatis antibodies related to a non-genital infection. Plus, it can point out past infections. On the other hand, a urine sample detects bacterial infections, and you can get results in a few days.
Upon treatment following a positive diagnosis, it’s advisable to retest after three months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Doing so can avert complications or the risk of infecting other people.
The test process is pretty straightforward: you collect your sample, ship it off to the lab, and wait for your results. Most companies guarantee accuracy and confidentiality. The only downside is that std home testing may not be covered by insurance, so you might have to pay out of pocket.
Comprehensive Test Kits
A comprehensive test kit might do the trick if you’re unsure which STI test to carry out, as it allows testing from multiple infections. And although such kits tend to be more expensive than testing kits for one STI, they are more convenient.
This approach implies collecting and sending a sample to a lab or service provider. Results are available in 5 days at most. You may contact the provider afterward to discuss your results or seek treatment.
Choosing the Right Home Testing Kit
Which at-home test kit is ideal for you? Here are a few considerations to help you pick a kit:
- How highly do you value your privacy?
- Is accuracy important?
- How long can you wait for the results?
- Would you mind a follow-up test?
If you’re unsure which kit is ideal, consult a health care provider. They can help you choose the most appropriate one, depending on your symptoms and sexual history.
STI home kits provide an easy way to know your status. And as you’ve noted, they’re pretty easy to use. Most importantly, they help you determine whether you need to seek treatment, as this could determine the course your life takes. You owe it yourself to get tested, so go for it.