The Advantages of Getting a Rapid STD Test

New HIV Test Kit Gives Results In 20 Minutes. Getty Images / Getty Images News

What is a Rapid STD Test?

Rapid STD tests have been designed to save patients time and effort. An STD test is defined as rapid if a patient can wait for their results instead of having to come back to the clinic at a later date. This potentially saves patients a trip to the doctor. It also enables patients who are infected with an STD to start treatment right away rather than having to come back for a prescription.

If rapid STD testing is important for you, it's a good idea to inquire if your doctor offers rapid tests for the STDs you care about before you go for a visit. Such tests are not available at all clinics or offices.

There are tests that are designed specifically as rapid tests that can be done anywhere. This includes a rapid HIV test that gives results in 20 minutes. The reason that such tests are not always available is that they may not be suitable in every situation. In part, this is because rapid tests may be less sensitive or specific than other tests. That means they have the potential to  lead to false positive or false negative results. Certain rapid HIV tests are only used in high prevalence areas where their predictive value is higher.

There are also times when a particular diagnostic test is a rapid test in certain doctor's offices but not in others. This is usually because the office or clinic has the facilities to run the test on site while a patient waits.

Other doctors may need to send the same test samples to an outside laboratory and wait for the results

Some tests, such as bacterial cultures, can never be done rapidly. It takes time for bacteria to grow! However, since these tests may be more accurate than their rapid equivalents, they are sometimes used to confirm a rapid result.

If your test result requires confirmation, your doctor should let you know at the time of your exam.

Examples: Rapid testing isn't only used for STDs and HIV. Parents of young children may be familiar with the rapid strep test that is sometimes used to diagnose strep throat.

Did you know: The Oraquick Rapid HIV test only takes 20 minutes. Even better, it is run on a saliva sample rather than a blood sample. No needle stick. All it takes is a saliva sample. 


Chan D, Stewart M, Smith M, Price T, Lusk J, Ooi C, Read P, Finlayson R. The rise of targeted HIV oral rapid testing in Australia. Med J Aust. 2015 Mar 16;202(5):251-5.

Continue Reading