Learning about the Accuracy of the HIV PCR Test

Q:  I am afraid that I have been exposed to HIV in the past 6 weeks. I had unprotected sex with someone that may have the virus. Although I do not know for sure if he has HIV, I would rather not depend on his word alone. I have been trying to find a test that will provide me with early detection and accurate results. My research has led me to your company and the HIV PCR test. Can you tell me more about the accuracy of HIV PCR test that you offer? I need results that I can rely on so I can put my mind at ease.

S. Gilmore

Miami, FL

A:  The HIV DNA PCR test can provide reliable results very early after an exposure, and it is considered conclusive at 28 days post exposure. If you believe you may have been exposed to the virus it is definitely a good idea to get tested.

Our testing is fast and private. We can send you to a discreet collection center as early as the same day you call us, and have your results back within 3-5 business days usually. Our test experts are more than happy to help you decide which, if any, testing is right for you. We will address all your concerns, discuss your risk, and guide you through the testing process. If you have any questions or would like to arrange for testing, feel free to contact our office at your convenience.

Can About My Health Meet My Business’s Drug Testing Needs?

Q: I own a small business with only three employees. I have been searching for a place to handle the drug screening of my employees. I have heard good things about About My Health, and I would like to know more about your company. What types of drug screening do you offer? Which type of testing is best for my needs? I need to have my employees screened randomly to help keep my insurance rates down, as well as to protect the best interest of my business. Accuracy of test results is a must, as well as an easy testing process. Is About My Health able to meet my testing needs?

S. Davis
Atlanta, Georgia

A: Hi, and thank you for your interest in testing with us. We offer various types of drug testing for businesses. The most common form of testing is with a urine analysis, and there are multiple panels available. Most people opt for the five-panel urine screen, which checks for amphetamines, marijuana, cocaine, opiates, and PCP. If you have a specific concern or your employees have access to prescription medications you might consider a more extensive panel.

Hair follicle testing can cost more than urine testing, but it does cut down on adulterated specimens and can offer a 3 month window of detection. Depending on your concerns one test may be better than the other. Our counselors can discuss your concerns, help you decide which tests to use, and offer a volume-based pricing plan for your account. If you have any questions or would like more information please do not hesitate to let us know.

Is the HIV DNA PCR Test the Best Option?

Q: I recently discovered that my 16-year-old daughter is sexually active. I am concerned about STDs, especially HIV. She has not been active for very long, only about two months. I have been reading about your HIV DNA PCR test. Is it accurate enough for the early detection of HIV, even if her possible exposure was only two months ago? I really need to put my mind at ease, as well as her mind. Is this particular test the best option for her? What other STD screenings do you recommend? I just want to make sure my daughter is healthy.

M. Salina
Muskogee, OK

A: The HIV DNA PCR is a great way to get a conclusive HIV result without waiting 3 months for an antibody test. The test is considered conclusive for anything more than 28 days ago. While HIV is what most people are primarily concerned about, it is important to test for other STDs as well. Common STDs like Chlamydia and gonorrhea can be tested for around a week after exposure. Blood tests for other STDs, including HIV, herpes, hepatitis B, and syphilis, can be taken 6-12 weeks after exposure for reliable results.

We do offer a panel that checks for all the STDs mentioned earlier, and the testing process is very easy. Often times the collection can be done the same day you call, and results are returned within a few business days. If you or your daughter have other questions or would like to arrange for testing, please call our office to speak with a counselor at your convenience. We can discuss her risk and help her decide what tests are needed, as well as figure out when the best time for her to test is.

The Condom Broke – Is HIV Testing Needed?

Q: I was wondering if someone needs to be tested for HIV if a condom broke. My best friend told me that the last time she had sex, the condom broke. Now, she is worried that she might have an STD or even HIV. Should she wait to be tested for HIV until a few months have passed? The incident happened about a month ago. Is there even condom broke HIV testing that will detect the virus after such recent exposure? I just want to give her all the information I can to put her mind at ease.

W. Iverston
Kansas City, Missouri

A: There are various ways to test for HIV. With the traditional HIV antibody test your friend needs to wait until it’s been 6-12 weeks after the exposure to get reliable results. At 6 weeks the test is considered reliable, and at 12 weeks it is considered conclusive. If your friend doesn’t want to wait any longer she might consider an HIV DNA PCR test. It is considered conclusive 28 days after exposure.

It is important that your friend check for other STDs as well. She is more likely to contract something like chlamydia or gonorrhea from a broken condom, but it is a good idea to check for all STDs just to be safe. If she has questions or concerns it may be easier for her to call our office and speak with a counselor. We can discuss her risk and help her decide what tests to take and when to test for the best possible results.

Is the HIV DNA PCR Panel Best for Early Detection?

Q: I recently found out that I might have been exposed to HIV. I had unprotected sex with someone that was diagnosed as HIV positive. I’m very worried and scared right now. Can you please advise me on which type of HIV testing I need? My exposure was only about 6 weeks ago, so I need something made for early detection. Is your HIV DNA PCR panel test the best option? Is there another option that would be better? I just want to know my results as soon as possible – I don’t want to wait.

M. Neiferman
San Francisco, CA

A: For your situation a HIV DNA PCR is most likely the best option. The PCR can cost more than the traditional antibody testing, but it can provide conclusive results for anything more than 28 days ago. If cost is a concern for you, you might consider doing an antibody test now and then retesting later. At 6 weeks post-exposure, an antibody test can provide extremely reliable results, and a 12 week follow up antibody test would give you conclusive results.

Either route you decide to take the testing process is simple. Simply call our office to receive a registration number, go to the private collection site to submit a blood sample, and then receive your results in a matter of days. All of our testing is private and laboratory based. We will discuss your concerns and help you figure out which testing is best for you. Please call our office if you have questions or would like to arrange for testing.

Do I Need an STD Panel When I Always Practice Safe Sex?

Q: I am a 21-year old female with no known health problems. I have been sexually active since I was 16 years old. I have never had an STD panel test performed. I’ve always used protection, so I’ve never worried about having an STD. Do I need to be tested even though I don’t have any strange symptoms or other indicators of a possible STD? My friend says that I should be tested at least once every year, if not twice. Do I really need to be tested that often when I always practice safe sex?

S. Parker
Richmond, Virginia

A: Using protection definitely is a great way to protect against STDs; however, condoms are not 100% effective. Sometimes condoms can break or be used incorrectly, which can expose you to an infection or virus. Even a slight lapse can be enough for an STD to successfully transmit in some cases. Also, condoms do not fully protect against skin-to-skin transmitted STDs such as herpes. Many STDs do not show symptoms for quite a while, so while it is great that you have not had any outbreaks or signs of an infection it is still a good decision to get tested.

We offer fast, private, and reliable testing. Just call our office to receive a registration number, submit the blood and/or urine sample at your convenience, and then wait for results. We will call you with your results when they are available, which is usually within 1-3 business days of your collection. Please let us know if you have any other questions.

Can I Get Anonymous STD Testing?

Q: I think that I might have an STD. I have been having some burning and itching in my genital area. Since I had unprotected sex about a month ago, I’m worried that the symptoms are the result of an STD. I have a regular doctor, but I’d rather not get tested there – I’m afraid someone I know will find out since he’s been my family doctor for many years. Does About My Health offer anonymous STD testing? If so, how do I know that everything will be completely anonymous? I’d rather not have to fill out questionnaires or anything like that. I just want to know if I have an STD.

D. Hardman
Atlanta, Georgia

A: It is a good decision to get tested if you are experiencing symptoms, and it is understandable that you don’t want to visit your regular physician. We offer private testing for this exact kind of situation. Simply call our office to receive a registration number, visit the private and discrete collection site, and then receive your results in a matter of days. At the collection site you do not need to provide identification, fill out any forms or questionnaires, or experience any physical examinations. Just give them your registration number, provide a blood and/or urine sample, then leave. We will contact you with results when they become available, which is usually within 1-3 business days. We can also help you attain treatment if necessary. Please contact our office at your convenience if you have any questions or would like to register for a test.

Learning More about Chlamydia Symptoms

Q: About one month ago, I had a one-night stand. Unfortunately, alcohol was involved, and I failed to use protection. Now, I have been experiencing some itching and discomfort in my vaginal area. One of my friends seems to think I may have contracted chlamydia. However, I’m not so sure that I don’t just have a yeast infection. Could you please tell me more about chlamydia symptoms to help me figure out what is going on, as well as how I can go about getting myself tested? I’m afraid to visit my regular doctor because I don’t want anyone I know to find out about it.

R. Thompson
Sapulpa, Oklahoma

A: Chlamydia symptoms often resemble those of a yeast infection. If you have tried treatment for a yeast infection with little or no relief, it could be a sign that your friend is right. Chlamydia and other bacterial infections are easily treated in most cases; however, you must test positive first.

We offer fast and private testing for chlamydia, and we most likely have a collection center near you. Simply call our office to arrange for testing, submit the urine sample, and then wait for results. Results are typically returned in a few business days, and if your test is positive we can help you attain treatment as well. Like your doctor, we are required to keep your information private and we will not share your information without your consent. If you have any questions or would like to schedule a test, please call our office at your convenience.

Is Testing Needed with No Gonorrhea Symptoms?

Q: I am an 18-year-old male, and I have been sexually active for approximately 2 years. Although I always try to use protection when I have sex, there have been a few occasions when protection was not used. Recently, I heard that a girl I was intimate with a couple of months ago has gonorrhea. Although I haven’t been experiencing any gonorrhea symptoms, at least not to my knowledge, I’m still scared. Could you please tell me more about the symptoms of gonorrhea? Do I need to be tested if I’m not exhibiting any symptoms?

L. Kilper
Birmingham, Alabama

A: Hi, you’ve expressed some very good and common questions about gonorrhea. Gonorrhea is a very common sexually transmitted infection, and it is also very easily transmitted. While it is good that you are not showing any noticeable symptoms, it does not put you in the clear. Both gonorrhea and chlamydia are notorious for not presenting symptoms – up to 75 percent of the time in women and 50 percent of the time in men.

It is a good idea to seek testing not only because of the rumor you heard, but also because you are sexually active. It is important to seek periodic testing regardless of whether you show symptoms or not. There are various ways to get tested, including with your local health department or your personal doctor. If you don’t want to visit the health department or your doctor, we offer fast and private testing at local testing centers. Simply call our office to register for the test(s), submit the specimen(s), and receive results a few days later. Many STDs, including gonorrhea and chlamydia, can be easily treated. We can help you attain treatment as well if necessary. If you have any questions or would like to schedule testing, please do not hesitate to contact us at your convenience.

Better Detection with a Hair Follicle Drug Test?

Q: I suspect that an employee is abusing drugs. I am going to have him submit to a drug test. However, I want to make sure that I use a test that will give me reliable results. Is a hair follicle drug test more accurate than a urine drug test?

W. Elmer

Salt Lake City, Utah

A: Hair follicle testing and urine testing are both reliable, but one may be better than the other for a particular situation. Urine screening is by far the most common form of testing, and it can detect recent use of drugs. Unfortunately, the window of detection with urine is limited from days to weeks and may not detect past usage.

The hair follicle test can provide up to 90 days of detection; however, it is not ideal for detecting light or recent usage. Many drugs require a specific test panel to be detected. If you have any specific concerns, or if you have questions, please feel free to contact our office for more information.