The information in this article is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Instead, consult your physician or any licensed healthcare providers if you have medical questions to get personalized answers.
A full STD panel is a one-stop-shop for detecting common sexually transmitted diseases, like chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis A, B, and C, syphilis, herpes, and HIV. It comprises urinalysis and blood tests performed and analyzed in the lab. Sexually active individuals should get tested for STDs regularly or at least once a year for prevention and early detection. Below, we outline the individual tests of the full STD panel and how they are done.
|Pro tip: You can order an STD panel online for 11 of the most common infections. This system ensures seamless laboratory appointments, information confidentiality, quick results turnaround, and a convenient testing process.
A chlamydia test detects the bacterial infection via urine or genital swabs. The medical technologist will detect Chlamydia trachomatis in the urine or swab sample. Then, a method called Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) is performed to screen for the DNA of C. trachomatis.
For best results, avoid urinating for at least an hour before taking the chlamydia urine test. Doing so will ensure that the sample is concentrated enough to yield accurate results. In the laboratory of your choice, you will receive a sterile container to collect your urine sample. This will then be analyzed in the lab.
After taking the test, avoid engaging in any sexual activity to avert the spread of the infection. Chlamydia is asymptomatic, which means it’s possible not to experience any symptoms of the infection despite contracting one. Therefore, without your test results, nothing confirms that you don’t have the STD. Hence, abstaining from sex is highly encouraged for precaution.
|Did You Know? Chlamydia can also be screened through a blood test. It uses the IgM antibody as the biomarker for the infection. For more information, check out the Chlamydia trachomatis blood test.
Screening for gonorrhea typically goes hand-in-hand with chlamydia. Both infections can be tested through urinalysis, particularly the NAA urine test. Like chlamydia, gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that can be asymptomatic, making it even more imperative to detect it at its onset.
In a urine test, its causative agent, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, is identified in the lab. In addition to urine samples, testing for gonorrhea can also be done through swab samples taken from the mouth, anus, vagina, or urethra.
A hepatitis panel is a blood test that determines if an individual has been infected with the hepatitis A, B, or C virus. Although hepatitis B is essentially the main STI in the viral infection, which is transmitted via bodily fluid (i.e., semen, blood, and vaginal fluid), the panel covers all hepatitis types for good measure.
Hepatitis screening involves testing a small blood sample to detect antigens and antibodies associated with the hepatitis virus. Medical professionals are responsible for collecting the blood sample via venipuncture, performing the laboratory analysis, and preparing the results document.
The syphilis test, particularly the diagnostic blood test, works by initially identifying specific antibodies associated with Treponema pallidum, the pathogen that causes syphilis. If these antibodies are detected, further testing is performed to verify the presence of syphilis infection.
In a full STD panel, syphilis is screened through a method called cascading reflex or screening cascade. Cascading the testing process streamlines the diagnostic pathway by only proceeding to additional testing if necessary, reducing unnecessary testing and associated costs. This approach is especially beneficial in high-volume laboratories where efficiency is crucial.
Learn more about the different types of syphilis blood tests and which one suits you best in terms of exposure, symptoms, and other factors. Keep in mind that treating syphilis early, at the onset of its development, increases the likelihood of speedy recovery.
Herpes blood tests are used to detect the presence and type of herpes simplex virus (HSV) in the body. HSV is responsible for causing two main types of herpes infections: HSV-1, which leads to oral herpes, and HSV-2, which causes genital herpes.
The herpes blood test is typically included in the full STD panel. The blood test does not detect the virus itself but looks for antibodies produced by the body’s immune response to the virus.
There are two types of antibodies that can be detected in a blood test: IgM and IgG. IgM antibodies are usually present during an active herpes outbreak, while IgG antibodies are produced over time and can indicate a past or current infection.
Detection for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) 1 and 2 antibodies and antigens is a critical part of a full STD panel. Most HIV blood tests are already in the fourth generation. Earlier generations only screened for HIV antibodies, but the fourth-generation tests now include the p24 antigens. This increases the accuracy and reliability of the blood test as well as improves early detection.
An HIV blood test can detect the virus one month after contraction. Nonetheless, if you have recently been exposed to HIV, it’s critical to take the test as soon as possible.
HIV can be transmitted through body fluids, particularly semen, vaginal discharge, and blood. In addition, it can be transferred from the mother to the fetus. Hence, pregnant women at high risk are advised to take the HIV blood test.
|Pro tip: HIV infection is a lifelong condition. However, you can manage the disease through early detection and proper medication. If left untreated, however, it may develop into acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), which is the fatal late stage of HIV infection. Check out these guides to learn more about HIV.
10 Early Symptoms of HIV Infection that Everyone Should KnowHere’s How You Can Get Tested for HIV
A comprehensive or full-panel STD test consists of urine and blood tests. This panel is designed to screen for common sexually transmitted infections all at once.
Bacterial infections, particularly chlamydia and gonorrhea, can be detected through a urine sample. This is because the site of bacterial growth is typically accessible to the urine flow. On the other hand, viral diseases like HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis are screened through blood testing, as they trigger specific antibodies produced by the immune system.
If you are sexually active, it is recommended to take the full STD panel at least once a year. Regular testing is highly recommended, especially for STDs that do not show symptoms, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. It’s also a primary health requirement for individuals in the adult talent industry.
To better understand STD, its impact, testing, and prevention, check out our free guides:
STD panels typically have accuracy rates ranging from 90% to 99%, with a median of 96%. Simply put, you can expect that the test results are reliable and precise, given that each test is performed based on established laboratory protocols. This is also the main reason why it’s recommended to undergo STD lab tests instead of at-home tests.
A urine test can help confirm two common STDs: gonorrhea and chlamydia. Some tests also only require genital swabs. Others, however, require blood samples, especially STD tests that use antigen or antibody biomarkers.
The turnaround for test results depends on the lab that processed the samples. At Personalabs, you can expect your results in your account within two to 10 business days. You can also reach out to our customer service line so we can follow up with the lab on your behalf.
A full STD panel makes it easier for your doctor to screen common infections contracted from sexual intercourse. Since it comes in a package, it saves you the time of taking the individual test and waiting for the results one by one. Take better control of your sexual health by ordering the full panel STD test–whether it’s for a routine checkup or a medical precaution assigned in your industry.