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How safe are STD home tests?

Are you having an active love life and want clarity about your state of health? Would you like to test yourself for sexually transmitted diseases such as Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis and HIV from the comfort of your own home, but you are not sure which STD test really gives reliable results?

With an STD home test you can test yourself for STDs - discreetly and easily. However, there are big differences when it comes to quality. And a false test result can have serious consequences.

In this article, you will learn what types of STD home tests are available, what you should look out for in the tests and how reliable they are.

STD stands for sexually transmitted diseases or is also known as "sexually transmitted infections" and is abbreviated as STI.

The different types of STD home tests at a glance

1) The home test as a rapid test (without laboratory analysis)

You can easily perform this test at home and get the test result in no time.

Advantages: As the name suggests, this test is unbeatable in terms of speed. You can interpret your results within 10 to 30 minutes. It is discreet and you can do it in your everyday life.

Disadvantages: An evaluation in a professional laboratory is always more accurate and safer than an STD rapid test performed at home. The analysis devices in the laboratory are more precise. But mistakes can also happen when performing the test. And as a novice it is often not so easy to interpret the display correctly.

2) The Home Test - or rather the submission test - with laboratory evaluation

This test is innovative and is a mixture of the home test and the classic laboratory evaluation known from the medical practice. It is also known as the submission test. You take blood or urine yourself or take a smear and send the samples to a laboratory.

Advantages: You can perform the sample collection discreetly at home and save yourself the trip to the doctor. Above all, the samples are analysed in the laboratory to the highest medical standard. And by sending the samples directly to the laboratory, you usually get the results much faster than with a traditional visit to the doctor.

Disadvantages: When taking the samples, mistakes can be made. It is therefore ideal to receive instruction on how to take and send in the samples correctly.

Lab analysis from the comfort of your home

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How is a self-test (as a rapid test) for sexually transmitted diseases carried out?

In recent years, more and more self-tests for STDs have come onto the market. You can simply buy them at the pharmacy or order them anonymously on the Internet and test yourself at home for STDs such as Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis and HIV.

The majority of these STDs are usually well treatable. However, it is important that you recognise them in good time.

In most cases, the following two types of samples are taken

1. Blood sample

During a blood analysis, the test person pricks his fingertip with a small lancet and draws his own blood. The only difficulty: a certain amount of blood must be taken. This procedure is used to detect HIV and Syphilis.

2. Urine sample

For the analysis the test person collects some urine. It is important that the first portion of urine is used. This method is used to detect Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea.

This is what you should pay attention to with an STD home test (as a rapid test):

- Choice of product: HIV home tests (as a rapid test) sold in pharmacies, drugstores and at AIDS centres are approved and safe in the EU.

But there are no officially approved products in Europe for home testing (as a rapid test) for all other sexually transmitted diseases. These tests are usually sold over the internet and are not recommended due to their poor quality.

- Skilful implementation: In addition to the selection of the product, the correct application is decisive. To avoid mistakes, you should follow the instructions in the package insert step by step.

Ideally, you should receive expert instruction on how to perform and evaluate the self-test correctly. However, such an introduction is rarely offered so far. The majority of STD home tests (as rapid tests) are sold purely via the Internet, without personal advice on site.

- Accurate evaluation: After taking blood or urine, the test results must be interpreted. This is not always easy for non-experts and can easily falsify a test result.

Conclusion In all three points the STD home test (as a rapid test) is inferior to the laboratory test. With a laboratory test, you do not have to worry about the quality of the test or the certainty of the test results. The test is approved in Europe, is carried out professionally and the result is evaluated by qualified personnel.

An exception on the market is the S.A.M home test. It combines discrete home sampling with the quality guarantee of the laboratory test.

Home tests (as rapid tests) seem reliable - but are they really?

Today there are numerous home tests (as rapid tests) for sexually transmitted diseases that promise a supposedly reliable test result. The instructions are written in German and give the impression that these are medically tested procedures.

The CE mark is often seen by buyers as a guarantee of quality. But this only states that the test was manufactured according to European guidelines. It is not a guarantee of test quality!

For infections of Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia there are no nearly reliable rapid tests. Therefore, the Robert Koch Institute advises against the use of these tests (Epidemiological Bulletin 5/2012).

The only exception for rapid tests:

CE-certified HIV rapid tests

CE-certified HIV rapid tests, which are carried out with blood, come close in accuracy to the results of laboratory tests. Therefore, they were approved for use by non-experts (home test as a rapid test) and introduced to the market in 2018.

Caution: HIV rapid tests using saliva or urine are not safe and therefore not approved.

Home tests (as rapid tests) vs. professional home tests with laboratory evaluation - the differences at a glance

The following table is intended to provide an overview to distinguish unreliable rapid tests from professional home tests.

Home tests as rapid tests Home tests with laboratory evaluation
Type of samples HIV tests performed with saliva or urine are inaccurate in their results. The HIV home tests should have EU approval (CE mark). Blood plasma or serum are suitable as analysis material.
Infections The tests must be purchased individually. You can only be tested for one specific STD at a time. The home test with laboratory evaluation is available as a test kit for all four sexually transmitted diseases (HIV, gonorrhoea, chlamydia, syphilis).
Implementations Carrying out the procedure without medical staff and from home is often flawed. Carrying out the procedure without medical staff and from home is often flawed. Exceptions are tests with a professional introduction in advance.
Evaluation and communication of results The test person can - after 10 to 30 minutes - interpret the result independently, eg. on the basis of a colour change on a test strip. Misinterpretations are possible, such as not recognising a color or confusing control and test strips. Only the pure HIV test provides a reliable result. According to medical standards, the home test for gonorrhoea, chlamydia and syphilis only provides inadequate test results. The evaluation is carried out in the laboratory. The results are then transferred to S.A.M. The test results are classified as safe based on the evaluation in the laboratory. Standardised test procedures are used for laboratory tests. Clients then receive their test results by SMS. If the test is positive, a telephone message with advice is sent.
Recommendations for action If the result is positive, the test person is on his own. On the telephone there is the possibility of a consultation on the treatment options.

New with S.A.M: the combination of STD home test and professional laboratory test

The s.a.m home test is unique. This innovative offer combines the convenient home test with a high-quality laboratory test. This allows discreet sampling at home and at the same time professional analysis by a certified laboratory.

The S.A.M home test checks for HIV, Syphilis, Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia.

S.A.M offers an introduction to the test procedure at several checkpoints in German cities. Here you will be instructed by specialist staff on how to take correct urine and blood samples, take swabs and send them to a laboratory.

Thanks to a practical reminder function, the S.A.M. test is sent to your home on a regular basis. The highest level of discretion is observed. You will receive a customer number and your test results will remain completely anonymous in the laboratory.

The samples for the S.A.M home test are analysed by the Lademannbogen laboratory in Hamburg. This is a medical laboratory that is recognised by the German Accreditation Body (DAkkS).

Conclusion

The S.A.M. test allows the diagnosis of four infections in one set. Discrete sampling at home removes the major obstacle to being tested at all. As a result, significantly more people today have access to high-quality diagnostics of sexually transmitted diseases.

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You wish to have clarity about your sexual health?

Then find out more about the S.A.M. home test here.

Should you get tested for sexually transmitted diseases?

Especially with frequently changing sexual partners the risk of infection increases. With these infections it is possible that for a long time patients show no symptoms. Nevertheless you can still infect your sexual partners. With changing partners it is therefore advisable to get tested regularly. In this way you can also prevent late consequences of the infections.

If you are treated too late, certain sexually transmitted diseases can have serious consequences. An HIV infection that goes undetected for a long time can become life-threatening, a Syphilis infection can lead to organ damage, ascending Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia infections can make you infertile; in addition, such infections increase the risk of HIV infection through the inflammation and damage to the mucous membrane.

To prevent such late effects, it is important to have regular tests. We recommend combining a home test with a laboratory evaluation as a safe and up-to-date alternative. And in the case of a positive STI test, it means: act immediately and seek treatment from a doctor.

Your health is your greatest asset!

Register here now and test yourself for sexually transmitted diseases.

The S.A.M. home test is absolutely safe and discreet.

So that you can continue to enjoy your love life without worries.

Sources: Epidemiological Bulletin (5/2012) www.rki.de Emis Final Report MSM 2010 www.ecdc.europa.eu

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