Why is STI testing so important?
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) remain a major concern in today’s society. If left untreated, they can have severe consequences, affecting not only your health, but the health of any partners. STI testing is so crucial for everyone, no matter your relationship status. In this blog post, virologist Dr Lisa Berry explores the significance of STI testing and highlights key infections you need to be aware of.
HIV: Undetectable = Untransmissable
HIV was once a life threatening disease. Now, thanks to advancements in medical science, it has become extremely manageable. In fact, people living with HIV can, with the right care, live completely normal, healthy lives.
HIV treatment has become so advanced that for those taking regular medication, HIV becomes undetectable in the blood. When HIV is undetectable, it cannot be transmitted to sexual partners. This concept is known as “U=U” (undetectable = untransmissable).
Identifying and treating individuals with HIV not only ensures their well-being but also breaks the chain of infection. If you are experiencing symptoms of HIV, or simply want to check your status to be safe, it is important to get yourself tested.
Symptoms of HIV:
- Flu-like symptoms a few weeks after exposure to the virus
- Some will experience a widespread itchy, painful rash
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Oral thrush (an ‘opportunistic infection’, and sign of weakened immune system)
- Night sweats
- Unexplained weight loss
While there could be other reasons you may be experiencing any of the above, it is better to be safe than sorry. Checking for HIV as soon as possible will give you the best chance of successful treatment.
Syphilis is currently on the rise in the UK. It is known as the “great mimicker” due to its varied symptoms that resemble those of many other conditions. While syphilis is highly contagious, it can be treated with antibiotics. If left untreated, syphilis can spread, causing brain or nervous system damage.
Make sure to keep an eye out for signs of syphilis, and get tested if you are at all concerned.
Signs of syphilis to look out for:
- Small sores or ulcers around the penis, vagina or anus
- Rash on the palm of your hands or soles of your feet
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Achy muscles
- Wart-like sores in the mouth area
- Hair loss
- Sore throat
Some people with syphilis will experience no symptoms at all, so it is crucial to get regularly checked to rule out any potential STIs.
Hepatitis C: On the road to elimination
With the advent of direct-acting antiviral (DAA) medications, Hepatitis C is now a treatable infections. These drugs have shown an impressive success rate of 95%. The UK is actually on track to eliminate Hepatitis C by 2025.
Identifying and treating individuals with Hepatitis C is vital for this to be achieved. For those with a history of injecting drugs (including performance-enhancing drugs like steroids), getting tattoos, or undergoing dialysis outside the UK, actively testing for Hepatitis C can help with the significant progress towards eradicating the disease.
Get regular checks
STI testing plays a hugely important role in safeguarding your health and the health of your partners. At Phoenix Pathology, we offer UKAS-accredited testing for a range of STIs. Remember, early detection and treatment are key to preventing complications and breaking the chain of infection.
Never be embarrassed about getting tested – your health comes first.
Phoenix Pathology: Your Trusted Virology Service
At Phoenix Pathology’s virology service, located at 25 Harley Street, we understand the importance of accurate and reliable testing. That’s why we’re proud to announce that our laboratory has recently obtained UKAS accreditation for the blood tests we offer. Our expert team conducts on-site testing for various STIs, including HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and syphilis.
To book an STI test, please call us on 0207 079 2100 (option 3) to arrange your appointment. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions and a member of the team will get in touch.