STD Screening: Types, Procedures and Reliability Ghana - Beauty Ghana STD Screening: Types, Procedures and Reliability Ghana
. Eight pathogens cause the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the world. Of these STDs, four are curable, the World Health Organization reports
. Syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis
can be addressed through a timely diagnosis. Hepatitis B, herpes simplex virus (HSV) infections, HIV
and human papillomavirus (HPV)
infections cannot be cured. Still, even these viral conditions can be managed after a proper diagnosis.
Each year, millions of new sexually transmitted infections are registered across the globe. There are 131 million new chlamydia infections, 78 million new gonorrhoea
cases, 143 million trichomoniasis and 5.6 million syphilis cases.
Accurate screening is widely available in Ghana. This is the first step towards identifying the problem and seeking an adequate solution.
A sexual health clinic has the supplies and the trained staff needed to offer reliable and accurate screening services. Still, many people in Ghana hesitate about getting tested because of the attached stigma or the fear of getting a positive result
The screening process, regardless of the STD being targeted, is fast and simple. Since effective treatment and management options do exist, you owe it to yourself to get screening and ensure adequate measures to protect your health (and the wellbeing of your sexual partners).
If you’re not that familiar with the STD screening process or what it entails, the following guide will acquaint you with the essentials.
What Is STD Screening?
Different types of STD screening options exist and you should follow the guidelines that determine an optimal frequency of getting tested.
Annual chlamydia and gonorrhoea screening is recommended to:
- Anyone who is sexually active
- Individuals who engage in risky sexual behaviours – unprotected sex, one night stands
- People who have multiple sexual partners
- People who are diagnosed with another type of STI
- Those who have become the victim of sexual abuse or assault
Sexual health clinics do these tests either through a urine sample or through a swab of the reproductive organs.
screening are recommended to the following groups of individuals at least once per year:
- People who are positive for another STD (pre-existing sexually transmitted infections increase the risk for another condition developing)
- People who have had more than one new sexual partner since the last time they’d gotten tested
- Intravenous drug users
- Men who engage in sexual activity with men
- People who have become the victim of sexual abuse or assault
- Women who are pregnant, who are planning to get pregnant or who may be undergoing fertility treatments in the future
A blood test will be used to identify these infections. Most general practitioners, diagnostic laboratories and sexual health clinics in Ghana are capable of performing these tests.
Where Can You Get Screening?
STD screening is readily available in Ghana. Doing a bit of online research will give you a good idea about the facilities where you can get tested.
One of the easiest first steps is to talk to your doctor. You’ll be referred to a medical establishment where you can get tested.
Free clinics may also exist, offering reliable, quick, simple and anonymous testing.
Free testing could also be available via national initiatives. The government in Ghana has been working hard to increase awareness of different STDs, how they’re being spread and how common they are. Hence, national campaigns could be launched to offer free of charge testing in an array of medical establishment.
A final thing to keep in mind is that you’ll get STD screening whenever you donate blood. Hence, you’ll be doing a good thing and you’ll also learn a bit more about your status.
How Does STD Screening Work?
is quick and most of the time – painless. A blood draw could be a bit uncomfortable but it will be over very fast. Depending on the type of screening being performed, the results could be immediate or you may have to wait some time for the sample to be examined.
What exactly would happen during the STD screening itself? The answer will depend on the STD you’re getting tested for. A few of the possible steps include:
- Producing a urine sample in a sterile cup
- Having a physical exam
- After the physical exam, a swab will be performed (on the inside of the vagina for women, men could be asked to produce a semen sample)
- If a blood draw is required, a nurse or a lab practitioner will perform the procedure
- Blood could be drawn from the vein in the arm or from your fingertip
- If you have sores or open wounds in the genital region, these could be swabbed for screening purposes
- STD screening could also be used to test vaginal discharge, cervical mucus, liquid from inside the urethra, anus or penis
- Depending on the type of test, you may have to wait at the clinic to get instant results
- If instant results aren’t available, you’ll have to visit a second time to get your results and an explanation of their meaning
- Based on your STD test results, a healthcare practitioner will give you more information about safe sexual practices and the viable treatment options
- If you test positive, you’ll either be referred to a medical practitioner or you’ll be prescribed a treatment option (like antibiotics, for example)
Less Common Types of STD Tests
As already mentioned, chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and trichomoniasis are quite common. HIV screening is also readily available at sexual health clinics.
In some instances, however, you may need to get screened for a less common condition. Here’s how it’s going to happen.
Genital Herpes Screening
is a viral infection that’s easy to transmit. You can get genital herpes from a partner that is asymptomatic at the time of intercourse.
Unfortunately, no reliable screening option for genital herpes exists at the time being in Ghana. If you have ulcers, a doctor could take a sample to have it examined in a laboratory. Keep in mind, however, that a negative test isn’t always indicative of being free from a genital herpes infection.
Alternatively, a blood test can be ordered to detect a past infection with genital herpes. Once again, the results can be inconclusive. False positives and false negatives do occur often, which is why most sexual health clinics do not offer genital herpes screening.
Human papillomavirus infections are incredibly common. Just like genital herpes, HPV can be transmitted
by a person who doesn’t have any symptoms.
There are more than 100 types
of HPV viruses, WHO reports. Fourteen of them are known to cause cervical cancer. Not all women who are infected will develop cervical cancer but the risk grows and regular screening will be required.
In 2018, 570,000 new cases
of cervical cancer were diagnosed across the world. Seventy percent of these cancers were caused by two types of HPV viruses – HPV type 16 and HPV type 18.
A pap smear is used to collect a small cell sample from the cervix and check for the presence of HPV. Women between the ages of 21 and 65 are guided to have a pap smear every three years (if they haven’t gotten abnormal results in the past). The good news is that cervical cancer is relatively slow and non-invasive, which provides sufficient time for the selection of an adequate treatment option.
Other than pap smears, HPV blood diagnostic tests also exist. These are recommended to women over the age of 30 and to those who have gotten abnormal results in the past. The test provides information about the type of HPV and whether it’s classified as a virus increasing the risk of cervical cancer development.
What Happens if Your Result Is Negative?
Congratulations, you don’t have an STD.
Even if you get a negative result, it may still be a good idea to visit a sexual health clinic to discuss the outcome of the screening and safe sexual practices.
There are options for getting vaccinated against some of the common viruses causing HIV. Hepatitis and HPV vaccines do exist. Talking to a clinician will give you a better idea about whether you’re a suitable candidate for getting vaccinated.
Anyone engaging in risky sexual practices should also consider possibilities like PrEP
. The term stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis and this is a drug treatment administered over the course of a specified time period to reduce the risk of HIV infections in the event of unsafe sexual contact.
Individuals who should consider preventative options like PrEP include people who are not in mutually monogamous relationships, gay and bisexual men who have multiple partners, heterosexual individuals who engage in risky sexual behaviours.
When you visit a sexual health clinic, you’ll also be told about the optimal period for going through STD screening again.
What if I Get a Positive Result?
STD screening is the first diagnostic option available to the general public.
Most types of screening tests detect the presence of antibodies rather than the actual virus/disease causing agent itself.
If the first screening test is positive, you will typically be referred for additional testing. These additional tests are more complex and they attempt to identify the virus itself. Through a second test, the first result will either be confirmed or rejected.
Finding out that you have an STD could seem like the rest of the world.
Understand the fact, however, that most STDs can be managed and controlled today.
Even HIV treatments
have gone a long way since those early days, increasing the life expectancy of HIV positive individuals significantly.
Even if a clinic offers an online results option, it would be best to visit.
Discussing your results with a clinician will give you a better idea about what a diagnosis entails and what your next step should be. Your doctor will give you an overview of the medical condition, its progression and whether a treatment is possible through the use of antibiotics or anti-viral agents.
You will also be advised about lifestyle changes. You will need to get in touch with current and former sexual partners to inform them about your diagnosis and prompt them to get tested, as well.
People who have an STD can be in a relationship and they can enjoy a healthy sex life. Awareness and taking the right precautionary measures, however, will be required to stay on the safe side. Having an STD isn’t something to be ashamed of. Millions of people live with a sexually transmitted infection and they enjoy a wholesome existence. While a change in mindset will be required, a positive diagnosis is not the end of the world.
STD screening is not scary. Getting your results shouldn’t be frightening, either.
The sooner you find out that something’s wrong, the easier the condition will be to treat. Knowing your status is also vital if you’re sexually active. As a human being, you carry responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of your sexual partners.
A sexually transmitted infection can be controlled through modern medications and treatment methods.
There’s no need to worry about being judged or ostracised due to the fact you’re getting tested. Such responsible actions are commendable. In addition, health clinics carry out STD screening anonymously. You’re the only person who will be aware of the results and it’s up to you to divulge the information to people in your life.
It’s imperative to get tested before you start experiencing symptoms. Making STD screening an annual routine will give you peace of mind. In addition, visiting a reproductive health clinic could also increase your awareness of safe practices and routines you can introduce in your life to reduce the risk of exposure or eliminate it altogether.