Syphilis, Hepatitis B & C And HIV Test

Syphilis, Hepatitis B & C and HIV Test


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How does this STI test kit work?

The syphilis, HIV, Hepatitis B & C test kit allows you to submit a blood sample for testing from your own home. Your blood sample will be sent to a lab where it will be examined for the presence of the viruses. You will then be contacted confidentially through your preferred means of contact.

How to use the STI test kit?

Your test will arrive in plain packaging. Upon opening, read the instructions carefully and fill in the labels to accompany each container. Wash your hands and sanitise the middle and ring finger of the hand you do not use to write with. The lancet will be topped with a cap which you should unscrew and remove, before pressing the the pad of of your middle or ring finger which will activate it, piercing the skin. Wipe away the first drop of blood, and then massage your finger while holding it above the collection container so that more drops are released. When the contained is filled to the line marked on the side, wipe your finger clean and cover it with a plaster. Screw the lid tightly onto the container and place it into the return packaging.

Why are syphilis, HIV and Hepatitis B & C available in a single test kit?

This is a suitable test for syphilis, HIV, hepatitis B & C because they are all detectable from a blood sample. Other sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea, require you to give a urine sample or a local swab from inside the mouth, vagina or anus.  

Who should get tested?

Anyone who is sexually active should be tested regularly for STI. This is particularly important if you do not use a condom during sex, or if you are having sex with more than one partner. Men who have sex with men are advised to be tested every 3 months, as they are at higher risk of contracting an STI.

When is the best time to get tested?

You should get tested regularly for STIs, particularly if you are having sex with more than one partner. However, you should wait until 2 weeks after having unprotected sex, as tests may not be able to detect infections contracted within this time period.

How accurate is this test?

When used correctly, this test is just as accurately at those taken in a registered sexual health clinic, as it uses the same process and technology as the NHS. Make sure to check the package for any damage when it arrives. 

What is syphilis?

Syphilis is a common infection caused by the bacteria Treponema pallidum. It cases sores to develop on the skin near the site of infection, usually the vagina, anus or mouth. To begin with, sores are small and painless but can become painful and raw. The infection is passed on through sexual or close bodily contact when sores are present, and is often spread unknowingly as sores can be hard to identify.

What is HIV?

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus that leads to AIDS. It alters the immune system by attacking CD4 cells, a type of T cell, and reduces the body’s ability to protect itself against infections, disease and other conditions. It is most commonly spread via unprotected vaginal or anal sex and through the sharing of injecting equipment. There is currently no cure for HIV, but it can be treated with post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), an emergency medication that can prevent HIV if taken within 72 hours of contraction, and antiretroviral drugs. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a drug that can be taken regularly as a preventative measure against HIV.

What is Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver which can lead to scarring, liver failure or cancer. It is spread through bodily fluids or blood of an infected individual and as such can be sexually transmitted. It is often hard to detect at first, but when symptoms do develop, they can include jaundice, fever, fatigue, abdominal pain, dark-coloured urine and light-coloured faeces. It is usually treated with a vaccine and a shot of hepatitis B immune globulin.

What is Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is a common viral infection that has many forms. If left untreated it can lead to serious health complications including liver inflammation, cirrhosis or cancer. It can only be spread through contact with the blood on an infected person, and is therefore more commonly transferred through sharing of drug injecting equipment. However, it can be sexually transmitted if there is exposure to blood during sex, for example, if any tearing occurs, or if the individual also has another STI such as syphilis. Early symptoms of Hepatitis C are similar to those of Hepatitis B, including jaundice, fever, fatigue, abdominal pain, dark-coloured urine and light-coloured faeces. Treatment varies depending on the type of Hepatitis C, but it can often be treated easily by taking antiviral tablets.

Who is most at risk of syphilis, HIV, Hepatitis B & C?

Your risk of contracting an STI is increased if you engage in unprotected sex, have sex with multiple partners, or are a man who has sex with other men. Being infected with HIV also increases the risk of contracting other sexually transmitted infections.

How do you catch syphilis?

Syphilis causes small sores on the skin, usually at the sight of infection, which can become raw and painful and recur sporadically. Syphilis is transferred through sexual intercourse of contact when sores are present. Sores can appear on the inside or close to the edge of the mouth, vagina or anus, and are often hard to see or feel, so syphilis is easily transmitted without knowledge.

How do you catch HIV?

HIV can only be transmitted through certain bodily fluids, namely blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluids and vaginal fluids. These fluids must either come into contact with the blood of another person, or with a mucus membrane such as the inside of the mouth, vagina or rectum. It is most commonly spread through sex and through the sharing of drug injecting equipment. 

How do you catch hepatitis B & C?

Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, namely blood, semen, pre-seminal fluids, rectal fluids and vaginal fluids. It is commonly transmitted sexually and through sharing of needles. Hepatitis C is usually spread through blood, usually through the sharing of needles. It is possible for hepatitis C to be spread through sexual contact if it involves exposure to blood.

How to avoid blood-borne STIs

The best way to avoid blood-borne STIs is to practice safe and healthy sex. Condoms are the only form of contraception to provide protection against STIs and should definitely be used if you or your partner has recently had sex with someone else, or if you are changing partner. Get tested regularly for STIs to avoid further transmission. 

What are the risks if these conditions are left undiagnosed and untreated?

If left undiagnosed and untreated, each of these infections can lead to serious health consequences. The sores that are the first sign of syphilis can quickly become painful and raw. If the infection is not treated, it can become severe and lead to permanent organ damage. Untreated hepatitis B and C can lead to serious liver complications, including inflammation, cirrhosis, scarring, liver failure, or cancer. Untreated HIV can progress to AIDS, although the risk and speed of the transmission differs between individuals. AIDS severely inhibits the immune system’s ability to fight infection, which can lead to any number of serious illnesses and damage to the body’s vital organs.  

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of syphilis?

The main symptom of syphilis is the appearance of small sores around the sight of infection, which can become painful and raw over time. If left untreated, symptoms can progress to a skin rash, fever, swollen glands, head and muscle aches and fatigue.  

What are the symptoms of HIV?

HIV is often hard to detect, but it is vital that the infection is treated as soon as possible. For this reason, you should be tested for HIV regularly if you are having unprotected sex. When they do occur, early symptoms can be easily confused with a flu virus, and include fever, sweats and chills, fatigue, head and muscle aches, skin rash, swollen lymph nodes, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, a sore throat, and a dry cough.

What are the symptoms of hepatitis B&C?

The symptoms of hepatitis C and B are easily confused. They can include jaundice (yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes), dark coloured urine, pale-coloured stools, tiredness and fever, and vomiting.

What are the long term effects of syphilis?

If left to progress untreated,syphilis can have serious health complications, and cause damage to your brain, heart, eyes, nerves, blood vessels, liver, bones and joints. 

What are the long term effects of HIV?

Stage 3 HIV, also known as AIDS, occurs if the virus is left untreated and the body’s ability to fight infection in seriously weakened. At this state, the risk of developing a life-threatening illness is greatly increased, and the body becomes extremely vulnerable to what are known as opportunistic infections (OIs).

What are the long term effects of hepatitis B&C?

Hepatitis B and C are curable and can be treated easily if caught early. If left to progress untreated, however, Hepatitis B and C can lead to serious liver damage, including inflammation, cirrhosis and cancer.

Treatment

How is syphilis treated?

Syphilis is usually treated with the antibiotic penicillin. Treatment is prescription only and the length of the course prescribed to you will depend on how long you have had the infection and what stage it has reached.

How is HIV treated?

While there is currently no cure for HIV, it is treatable. Some people choose to take pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) on a regular basis as a preventative measure against contracting the virus. If you think you may have been exposed to HIV, you can take (PrEP) within 72 hours of coming into contact with the virus. HIV is generally treated with antiretroviral drugs, and for many is manageable in the long term.

How is hepatitis B treated?

If you think you’ve been exposed to Hepatitis B, contact a doctor immediately. An injection of immunoglobulin within 12 hours of exposure may prevent you from becoming ill with the virus. Some cases of short-lived, acute hepatitis B may not need treatment, but chronic hepatitis B infection will need to be treated with antiviral medications. 

How is hepatitis C treated?

Hepatitis C is treated with direct-acting antiviral (DAA) medicines. These come in the form of tablets which are taken or 8 to 12 weeks are highly effective, clearing the infection in more than 90% of people. The type of DAA tablets you need will depend on the type of hepatitis C you have contracted.

Is HIV curable?

There is currently no cure for HIV, although research on how to send the virus into remission is ongoing. If the virus in deemed ‘undetectable’ in someone’s system, it cannot be passed on to another, and this can be achieved by closely following a treatment plan. With the latest treatment options, it is perfectly possible to live with HIV and maintain a high quality of life.

Is hepatitis curable?

Hepatitis B and C are both considered ‘cured’ if the virus is no longer detectable in the the blood. Many people with hepatitis B recover fully, but if the virus becomes chronic, a doctor will recommend treatment. Chronic hepatitis C is usually curable with direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) taken daily over a number of weeks.

What should I do if I get a positive test result?

If you receive a positive result for your test, you can get a prescription for the appropriate treatment. You will need to inform any current or past sexual partners and inform them that you have tested positive, as they will need to take a test as well.

Q&A

What is a blood-borne STI?

A blood-borne STI is an infection that is primarily transmitted through sexual activity and is carried in the blood. They are passed on when certain bodily fluids of an infected person come into contact with the blood of another. Blood-borne STIs can also be transmitted through the sharing of needles or syringes, or of tattoo or piercing needles.

Can you contract syphilis, HIV or hepatitis B & C by any other means that sex?

Apart from hepatitis C, sexual contact is the most common means for transferral for all of these infections. However, each can be transferred through the sharing of drug injecting equipment, tattoo and piercing needles and, rarely, through a blood transfusion. In rare cases, syphilis can be transferred via prolonged kissing, if the mouth is the site of infection and raw sores are present.

Is this test suitable for men who have sex with men?

This test is suitable for men who have sex with men.

How do I get my test results?

You will receive your test results via your preferred means of contact, which can be by email, text, phone call or post.

How is this test kit packaged?

The test will arrive in plain packaging so that no one will be able to tell what is inside.

Will I be able to do this test myself?

This test is designed for you to complete yourself in the comfort of your own home. Read the instructions carefully before use.

Does this test work for both men and women?

This test works for both men and women.

What other ways are there to test for syphilis, HIV, hepatitis B&C?

Rather than take a home test, you can visit a sexual health clinic to be tested for STIs.

Are these tests available separately?

You can order a home test just for HIV from Dr Felix, but to test for syphilis and hepatitis B and C, you will need to take this combined kit. All of these infections can be tested for using a blood sample, so it is a good idea to check for all of them at once.

What other STI test kits are available?

You can order a range of STI test kits from Dr Felix. Chlamydia and gonorrhoea can be tested for individually or as a pair, with different kits available for both men and women and for different sites of infection (genital, oral and anal). HIV, syphilis and hepatitis B and C can be tested for with kit, or you can order the extended STI test which tests for 7 different infections. Test kits specifically designed for men who have sex with men are also available, including a basic kiet, which tests for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and HIV, and a comprehensive test kit which also tests for several less common STIs. Fill in a consultation form at Dr Felix to work out which test is best for you. 

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