Pros and Cons of Rapid STD Tests

Taking care of our health should be the most important thing in the world. It is not possible to properly function and optimally perform tasks if one is unhealthy, which is why nothing comes before making sure you are doing everything you can do be up to speed and feel good. Sadly, in the modern world, there are far too many things that could be potentially dangerous to a human being. From pollution to bad life choices and habits, it is harder and harder to stay truly healthy. Despite advancements in medicine and technology, and due to the lack of common sense and care, society has taken a nosedive in recent decades in terms of overall health and fitness.

Of course, not all diseases, conditions, and states are caused by these factors. Some are harder to deal with and they can come out of nowhere. Often times, we cannot prevent them as is the cause with the most serious of issues like cancers and genetics. In other cases, a little bit of knowledge and care can practically save your life or at least save you from a world of trouble. This is the most evident with sexually transmitted diseases, STDs.

People are generally familiar with them and know how to protect against them. However, what happens if you suspect that you may have gotten one? In this article we talk about how you can check if you have an STD in the comfort of your home. Thanks to rapid STD tests, it is now possible to do it quickly and without visiting a specialist. But do they work, and how accurate are they. Do the pros outweigh the cons? Read on to find out and make sure to check out for more information on the matter.

Speed, Ease of Use, Comfort, Privacy

Rapid tests are a modern solution to the problem of having to wait days for your results to come in. During the three or four days that a patient is waiting, a lot of the problems can already be treated or the treatment can at least be started. Having to wait unknowingly whether or not you have a serious disease is one of the worst feelings in the world. Gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV, and other diseases can seriously damage your health and leave lifelong consequences. While some rapid tests are still performed at the doctor’s office, they still take minutes to deliver instead of days. Moreover, the tests are made to be easy to use by the patient without any help from a medical expert. They do not cause any discomfort and offer a great amount of privacy.

Fewer Scared Patients

Among the most common problems at STD clinics are people who never return to pick up or even review their results. Receiving potentially bad news is enough for many patients to back out. They would rather live in denial and never be sure if they are healthy or not than to come back to the clinic for the second time and get the news. Infections that are left untreated can cause additional problems and complications that follow allows the problems to spread to other body parts. Being so relaxed about it can also hurt others as the person who has been tested never learns if they are positive or not.


Of course, like most other things, not every rapid test is the same. Some of them are more precise and accurate. Technical terms for these are sensitivity and specificity, and the higher it is the better the test. Sensitivity refers to the ability of the test to identify the right disease, and specificity is its ability to identify the lack of a disease. So basically, the former gives us a true positive rate, and the latter a true negative rate.
Regarding the specific diseases, rapid STDs vary in accuracy but they are quite successful overall. Gonorrhea rapid tests have 86% sensitivity and 97% specificity. For syphilis, it is 85% and 91%, and for chlamydia, the percentages are 96% and 97%. HPV results are 87% for sensitivity and 94% specificity, and for hepatitis B they are 97% and 99%. For Herpes, they are 93% and 99.9% respectively. For HIV, the oral swab quick test one can perform at home is 92% sensitivity and 99% specificity.

The Need for Traditional Tests

The biggest con of rapid tests is the fact that a full, slow test if you will ends up being needed anyway. If the doctor or the patient doubt the results, or if they do not agree with them in their entirety, a culture test is performed nonetheless. They are also needed because the afore mentioned numbers are not always so favorable despite being high.
To put these in perspective, at the rate of 92% sensitivity rate for the HIV rapid test, one out of every 15 tests turns out to be a false negative. This means that that one in every 15 patients is told they are healthy when they have been infected. This is why a culture test is also needed in most cases, particularly with bacterial diseases like syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia.

The Window Period

The main disadvantage of rapid tests is the period of time during which the test is not reliable. This happens because a certain compound that needs to be detected is not yet present in the body, or its quantities are still not sufficient. If the test is done in an improper time, it ends up being poor, inconclusive, or wrong. Sadly, this problem is the worst with the most dangerous STD, HIV.

Rapid HIV tests aim to detect the antibodies, which means that if there are not enough of them the test is not reliable. The window period for rapid tests is the time it takes for the antibodies to climb to the correct amount that can be detected. For HIV, this varies from 3 weeks to 6 months, depending on the patient and the test. So despite the fact that the patient gets results within minutes, it does not mean it is reliable.

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