Rapid STD Testing vs. Traditional Methods:  What You Need to Know

Did you know that you can prevent the most common STDs by taking early STD testing? Early testing allows the patients to take immediate treatment which can cure many STDs. But what STD testing is the best for you – traditional method or rapid STD testing? Learn the difference between both types of STD testing in this article.

Difference between Rapid STD testing and traditional methods

While both testing methods are good for diagnosing STDs, there are many differences between them with their pros and cons.

A rapid STD test is a test that gives you quick results usually within a few minutes. This test can be done at home rather than in a doctor’s office or clinic. This test can eliminate the stress of taking the test in clinical settings which can be embarrassing for a lot of people and costlier as well.

Whereas traditional methods including blood, urine, or swab tests can be done in the clinic or doctor’s office. These tests are more expensive than a rapid STD test and results take several days to come.


Rapid STD testing can be used to diagnose infections like chlamydia, syphilis, HIV, Human papillomavirus, gonorrhea, Hepatitis B, Herpes simplex, and some other STIs but not all STDs. Whereas traditional testing methods can be used to diagnose every type of STD.

Remember that rapid STD testing can be used for the most common STDs that are mentioned above.


At-home rapid STD test kits can be brought from pharmacies or online. To do the test, you need to follow the instructions and put the required material to collect a specimen. This can vary for the type of STI to be tested. For HIV, you just need to collect the swab from your mouth on the test strip and wait for 20 minutes to get the result. Whereas if you take this test at a healthcare clinic, they take a blood test by pricking your finger or take a blood sample from the arm to test it.

Whereas, in the traditional method, depending on the type of infection that is suspected, you may need one of the following tests:

  1. Blood tests: This test is used to diagnose syphilis, HIV, and sometimes herpes. During the procedure, a healthcare provider cleans your arm with a disinfectant solution and uses a small needle to prick a vein in your arm to collect blood in a test tube.
  2. Urine tests: This test is used to diagnose trichomoniasis or gonorrhea. During the procedure, your provider takes a sterile sample of urine in a container to send it to the lab for testing.
  3. Swab tests: This test is used to diagnose HPV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and herpes. During its procedure, a special swab is taken from the site of the infection. In women, the samples may be taken from the vagina or cervix, and in men, samples may be collected from the penis or urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body).

Besides these main tests, there is another test as well which is only used for advanced stages of syphilis or herpes that may affect the brain or spinal cord. It is called a spinal tap. In this test, the doctor takes a sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from your spinal cord by using a small needle between two vertebrae of your lower spine.


Rapid STD testing is fully accurate in detecting viruses if the virus produces proteins to replicate itself to attack other cells. Accuracy can vary between different STDs. But most of them produce accurate positive results. However, rapid std testing can produce negative false results where you might be infected with the virus because this test cannot detect early forms of the virus in the body.

So, if your result is positive, you should take immediate treatment. In case your test result is negative, then you should visit your healthcare provider for a traditional STD test to get an accurate result.

Pros and cons

When comparing rapid STD tests to traditional methods, rapid STD tests can produce quick results and save many people from the embarrassment of getting tested in a clinic which is not possible with traditional testing methods. Even though you can take a home test, a healthcare technician comes to your home to collect the sample and send it to the lab for testing which kills your privacy and makes you wait for your results.

However, the problem with rapid STD testing is that it can produce accurate positive results but false negative results because it’s not able to detect early forms of the virus in the body, which is not the case with traditional testing methods.

So, both have their pros and cons.

Rapid STD testing vs. traditional method testing is both excellent choices for diagnosing STDs. However, both have their pros and cons. If you want to know immediately whether you are infected with an STD or not, rapid std testing is a better option. If your result is positive, visit your healthcare provider for immediate treatment. But if your result comes negative you should consider traditional testing methods to diagnose whether you’re infected or not. This way you can keep yourself and your partner safe from these STIs.

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