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WHAT WE TEST FOR & HOW YOU GET TESTED 

We know that the task of having an STI test sounds daunting, that’s why we’re here. So far we’ve managed to eliminate a lot of the barriers between you and an STI test right? We’ve made it more convenient, awkward-free and cost effective, but we can’t remove that last hurdle for you, which is actually getting tested. We can tell you it’s really not that bad though.

We offer testing for all of the following STIs, however, our doctors will recommend on your personalised Pathology form which tests you should get. The tests are performed in the specified way for each.

 

Chlamydia

What is it: Chlamydia is the most common STI around today, but it’s also easily cured. The infection stems from a type of bacteria that can be passed along from person to person during vaginal, oral and anal sex.

Why get tested: The symptoms of Chlamydia can be absent for months, but you can still pass on the infection and if it is left untreated it can lead to serious complications including infertility. It also makes you more susceptible to other STIs including HIV. Some symptoms to keep an eye out for, if you’re a lady, include pelvic pain, bleeding after sex or between periods. Guys if you notice a clear discharge from your penis or experience pain when urinating it’s a pretty fair sign you need to be tested.

How are you tested: Whether you’re exhibiting symptoms or not, all you have to do is pee in a cup and that’s it you’re done. From there your urine is tested for the presence of the bacteria. Simple as that.

If you think you may have contracted Chlamydia from oral or anal sex our Pathology Referral will allow you to be checked for this as well. You will just need to ask the Pathology Centre staff for swabs of the area in question to be taken. 

How is it treated: All you have to do is take one dose of the antibiotic specified in your Stigma Health results one time, that’s it! For a limited time, we can even provide the script for you without the need for you to pay for an additional consultation. Your script will be automatically posted to you at the address you provide us when you order your Pathology Referral. Now that doesn’t sound too stressful right? However, you should refrain from any sexual activity for one week to let the infection fully resolve and get tested again 3 months after to make absolutely sure the infection is gone.

 

Gonorrhoea

What is it: Gonorrhoea is also one of the most common STIs and again it’s on the rise, particularly in men. Just like Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea victims often present with no symptoms, but the infection can still be passed on through vaginal, oral and anal sex.

Why get tested: Gonorrhoea can have serious health implications for both men and women if left untreated.In women, it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can have severe and painful symptoms, and lead to long-term complications, including, in rare cases, infertility. Gentlemen, you don’t get off lightly either, untreated Gonorrhoea can result in an unpleasant (at best) and painful condition called epididymitis in the tubes attached to the testicles.

Without terrifying you too much more it’s important to note that Gonorrhoea can spread to the blood or joints resulting in a potentially life-threatening situation.

Some symptoms to keep an eye out for, guys and girls, again pain when urinating is not a good sign. Ladies if you experience unusual vaginal discharge or pain during intercourse it’s a smart idea to get checked, it might not be Gonorrhoea, but better to be safe. Gentlemen any unusual discharge from the urethra or anus, get checked.

How are you tested: Continuing its common threads with Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea is also effectively tested via a simple urine test and some fancy workings in a lab. Easy.

Again, if you think you may have contracted Gonorrhoea from oral or anal sex our Pathology Referral will allow you to be checked for this as well. You will just need to ask the Pathology Centre staff for swabs of the area in question to be taken. 

How is it treated: Gonorrhoea is not as easily treated as Chlamydia, but in comparison to the infection itself, it’s not so bad! You’ll need to take one course of antibiotics as specified in your Stigma Health test results, but you will also need to see a GP to get an injection of antibiotics. Again it’s really not that bad in comparison to the infection!

 

Syphilis

What is it: Some people mistakenly think of Syphilis as a disease of the past, but it is not. In fact, the number of cases currently being diagnosed in Australia is on the rise. Syphilis was a very serious problem until an effective treatment, Penicillin, was developed in the 1940s, but it is still a serious concern today.

Why get tested: Syphilis develops in stages. The first two stages, which involve sores and a rash, will resolve themselves and can go unnoticed, but the infection will still be present and will continue to develop. If left untreated Syphilis can become an extremely serious condition that can affect the heart, brain, spinal cord and nerves potentially causing paralysis, blindness, dementia, deafness and as the history books should have taught you it can even result in death.

How are you tested: Ok this one involves a needle, but that is nothing compared to what can happen if you have been infected by Syphilis and leave it untreated. A blood test will show whether a person has the antibodies produced in response to the presence of the infection. Your Stigma Health Pathology Referral will allow you to have a blood test performed at the Pathology centre of your choice.

How is it treated: Today we still treat Syphilis with Penicillin, but unfortunately you’ll need to be injected with it for the treatment to be effective. Usually, this is done only once a week over three weeks. If you are allergic to Penicillin don’t despair, effective alternatives are available.

 

Hepatitis B

What is it: Hepatitis B is a virus that infects the liver; whilst there is a free vaccination available in Australia, it is still a major problem and a common cause of death in several parts of the world. It’s important to note that you may be more at risk of having been exposed to Hepatitis B if you’ve recently been travelling. You might be surprised at some of the common tourist destinations where Hepatitis B is still a serious issue. The virus is spread through blood, semen and vaginal excretions. It travels to the liver through the bloodstream and once in the liver, it uses your vital healthy cells in this hard working organ to multiply causing a response in your immune system.

Why get tested: Hepatitis B can go unnoticed, but most adults experience common symptoms such as fever, tiredness, vomiting/nausea, abdominal pain and jaundice (yellow skin tones). Most people recover from the virus, but the infection can develop into Chronic Hepatitis B in a small percentage of cases. With time Chronic Hepatitis B can cause scarring of the liver, liver failure and it also commonly leads to liver cancer. In fact, in 2012 the National Liver Cancer Prevention Policy, stated that the rate of deaths from liver cancer was increasing faster than any other form of cancer in Australia and they cited untreated Hepatitis B as a major contributor to that rate.

How are you tested: Again a simple blood test will show whether a person has the antibodies produced in response to the presence of the Hepatitis B virus. Your Stigma Health Pathology Referral will allow you to have a blood test performed at the Pathology centre of your choice.

How is it treated: To begin with patients undergo regular liver function tests every six months and unless the liver is showing damage there is no treatment required. If the liver is damaged a treatment plan should be devised by a gastroenterologist AKA someone who specialises in diseases of the digestive system. If you have not been vaccinated for Hepatitis B it would be a good idea to talk to your doctor about getting the immunisation.

IMPORTANT: If you believe you may have been exposed to Hepatitis B in the last 72 hours do not proceed with a normal STI test, visit a doctor, hospital or specialty clinic ASAP so you can receive preventative post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).

 

Hepatitis C

What is it: Much Like Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C is a virus that attacks the liver; but unlike Hepatitis B, there is currently no vaccine for Hepatitis C. Hepatitis C can be transmitted during sexual activity, although it is uncommon. However given its very serious nature, we think it’s better to be safe than sorry so we test for Hepatitis C when deemed necessary by our doctors.

Why get tested: Hepatitis C does not always make its victims feel ill when it’s first contracted however some people may experience flu-like symptoms, jaundice (yellow skin tones) and the urine can also go dark in colour. These symptoms usually resolve themselves in a few weeks and a lucky 20-30% of people will actually clear their blood of the infection without treatment within six months. However, the 70-80% of people who do not clear the infection, will have developed Chronic Hepatitis C after six months and that’s when the real symptoms set in. These include tiredness, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, moodiness and depression and joint pain. Long-term Chronic Hepatitis C leads to scarring of the liver, live failure and in some cases liver cancer.

How are you tested: Hepatitis C is also detected with a blood test, but this time we’re looking for a protein that your immune system makes in response to the virus. It’s important to note that anyone who has contracted Hepatitis C and overcome it without treatment will still have the protein in their blood, but you’re no longer infected or contagious, this makes regular testing for Hepatitis C even more important.

How is it treated: A new cure for Hepatitis C was made available to those in Australia last year through The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). This was a very positive medical development as there was previously no cure so now is an ideal time to get tested.

 

Hepatitis A

What is it: Hepatitis A is another infection of the liver, but unlike Hep B and Hep C most people recover completely. This one is usually transferred from person to person through contact with an infected person’s faecal matter (yes poo) and like Hep B it is still quite common in several popular tourist destinations due to poor sanitation and the way food may be fertilised/prepared…sorry if we just turned you off that next holiday! The good news is that there is a vaccine and once you have had it, you can’t get it again either.

Why Get Tested: Even though Hepatitis A is not a long-term condition the symptoms can still be very debilitating and whilst you have it you can pass it along to others! Not to mention if you do already have liver damage it can be particularly dangerous. Whilst it is less likely you’ll have contracted this one there are times when our doctors will recommend you are tested for Hepatitis A just to be on the safe side particularly since up to 40% of people with Hepatitis A have no identifiable risk factors for infection.

How Are You Tested: Hepatitis A is again detected via blood test. We’ll be looking for IgM Hepatitis A antibodies, sounds fancy right? The presence of these antibodies tells us that you’ve recently contracted the infection because they’re present for 3-6 months after. We’ll also look for IgG Hepatitis A antibodies, the presence of these guys tells us you’ve had Hepatitis A in the past and now have immunity.

How Is It Treated: Hepatitis A is not usually treated, it will clear up all on its own, just like a nasty dose of the flu, but as we said the symptoms can be quite uncomfortable so being tested means a doctor will be able to give you some relief and most importantly knowing you have it means you won’t pass it along to anyone else!

 

HIV

What is it: We all know that HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is serious. If you’ve never really read much about this condition, it attacks the immune system using its cells to reproduce itself and weakening it over time eventually resulting in Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or as it’s less formally known AIDS.

Why get tested: Early detection is our best weapon against HIV and is one of the key reasons Stigma Health is trying to make the process of getting tested much easier and less unnerving. With effective, early treatment, people can manage HIV and live long productive lives; however, you need to know you have it for this to start!

How are you tested: When you visit the Pathology Centre your Stigma Health referral will allow you to get a simple blood test that will be examined for HIV antibodies, which are found in the blood of anyone infected with the virus. If this is more than just a routine test for you or your partner, it is extremely important that you do not engage in any sexual activity until you have the results and know that you are both safe.

How is it treated: There is sadly still no cure for HIV, however taking the prescribed antiretroviral drugs can keep virus replication suppressed, and prevent the progression from HIV to AIDS.

We repeat: It is possible to live a long and fulfilling life with HIV, but early detection and treatment is vital.

IMPORTANT: If you believe you may have been exposed to HIV in the last 72 hours do not proceed with a normal STI test, visit a doctor, hospital or specialty clinic ASAP so you can receive preventative post-exposure treatment (PEP).

It can take up to 12 weeks for the HIV antibodies to show up in your system so if you believe you may have been exposed to HIV and are outside of the 72 hour window, but within the 12 week window period, you can and should get tested immediately, but it’s important that you return or seek further medical advice after the 12 week window has passed to be tested again to be sure.

If you believe you may have been exposed to HIV and are distressed visit our Resources section where you will find the contact information for several Sexual Health info lines operating across Australia, they’ll be able to speak to you about your concerns and help you get the attention you need.

 

Let’s talk about sex: If you suspect you may have contracted an STI it’s extremely important that you do not engage in any sexual activity, regardless of your relationship status, until you know that you’re safe and not at risk of infecting anyone else.

Please note: that we, like all medical practises, are required by law to report some STIs to the Federal and State Government Health Departments. Don’t panic, it’s all about stats, nothing about you. The information provided to them will never be used to identify individuals with STIs to the public in any way.

Be responsible: We know it’s awkward, but if you have tested positive or do test positive for an STI it’s imperative you tell any past/present partners who may be at risk so they can be tested and treated too.

Do the right thing, stop the spread of STIs.

If you’re struggling with how to tell a partner or past partner Let Them Know is a great resource and you can even notify someone via Email/SMS/Letter from their site either with your name or anonymously. Check them out.

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