Frequently Asked Questions

Health Comes First

Frequently Asked Questions in Categories

+What is syphilis?

Syphilis is an infectious disease caused by a bacterium (germ) called Treponema pallidum. Syphilis is much more common in other countries, especially in developing parts of the world.

+Symptoms of syphilis?

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It generally starts with a painless ulcer on the genitals. It can, however, be passed from a pregnant mother to her unborn baby. Untreated, syphilis infection can spread, over many years, to involve other parts of the body, such as the heart and brain. Syphilis is generally easily treated in its early stages, with a course (or single dose) of an antibiotic medicine. If you are infected with syphilis it is important that you are screened for other STIs. Your sexual partners should also be screened and treated (even if they do not have any symptoms). Genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics are most experienced at dealing with STIs such as syphilis.

+How is Syphilis transmitted?

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection. The infection is passed from person to person through contact with a syphilis sore (ulcer) - described below. So, depending where the ulcer is, the infection can be passed on during vaginal, back passage (anal), or oral sex. Syphilis is not spread by toilet seats, door knobs, bathtubs, shared clothing, etc. You need to have close direct contact with an infected person. If you are pregnant, you can pass on syphilis to your unborn baby (fetus). It is passed on via the placenta. Infection in the fetus can lead to serious problems in pregnancy (see later) and/or congenital syphilis. Syphilis is also transmitted in the blood. Syphilis can be transmitted through receiving infected blood products (a blood transfusion). However, syphilis can be passed from person to person through sharing needles between injecting intravenous drug users (IVDUs).  

+Stages of syphilis

Acquired syphilis
This is generally transmitted through sex with an infected partner. There are several stages:
Primary syphilis. This is the earliest stage and generally occurs from 10 days to 3 months after infection. It typically causes a painless ulcer on the genitals.
Secondary syphilis. This is the second stage of syphilis. Many different symptoms can occur (see later) but usually last several weeks. They can, however, come and go for up to two years.
Latent syphilis. Latent means 'hidden'. This occurs after the symptoms of secondary syphilis have cleared. With latent syphilis you have no symptoms. Latent syphilis can last for many years. It is divided into two types:
Early latent syphilis. This lasts for a year or so and you are still infectious - that is, you can pass syphilis on to other people.
Late latent syphilis. About two years after secondary syphilis has cleared you can become non-Infectious and are no longer able to pass syphilis on to others.

+IF SYPHILIS IS LEFT UNTREATED/DETECTED?

Syphilis infection can be passed from a pregnant mother to her unborm baby (fetus), via the placenta. This can result in serious pregnancy complications such as: Miscarriage. This means death of the fetus before 24 weeks of gestation. Stillbirth. This means death of the fetus after 24 weeks of gestation. Hydrops. This is a condition of severe swelling due to fluid (oedema) in the fetus. It is a serious condition that can result in death of the fetus. Polyhydramnios. This is a condition of pregnancy where there is an abnormally large amount of amniotic fluid surrounding the fetus. This can cause serious pregnancy complications such as: Preterm (premature) labour. Placental abruption (where the placenta suddenly detaches from the uterus). Postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) when there is excessive bleeding at delivery. Preterm (premature) labour. This is labour and delivery of the baby before 37 weeks of gestation. Congenital syphilis is syphilis infection in the baby or the child, transmitted from the mother. It is divided into early and late cases, dependent on when the child shows symptoms of syphilis infection. (See classification of syphilis section, above.) .
Early symptoms and signs of untreated congenital syphilis occur before the age of 2 years. They include: Rashes - typically a peeling rash of the palms, the soles and around the mouth and back passage (anus). An enlarged liver and/or spleen. Abnormal bone X-rays. Anaemia. Enlarged glands (lymph nodes). Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (jaundice). Late congenital syphilis is rare. It can cause symptoms similar to neurosyphilis in an adult. Problems affecting the eyes and joints are seen, as well as deafness, gummas and dental abnormalities.

+How is syphilis diagnosed?

Syphilis can be difficult to diagnose just based on symptoms. This is because there are very many different symptoms and often these symptoms can occur with other conditions. This is why syphilis used to be called 'the Great Imitator' because it mimics many other illnesses. Now, however, there are specific tests for syphilis. So, as long as it is suspected as a possibility, it can be easily diagnosed with a rapid reliable blood test- done at the doctor’s rooms.  

+What is the treatment for syphilis?

Because syphilis is caused by a germ (bacterium), it is readily treatable with antibiotics. Other antibiotics are sometimes used if you are allergic to penicillin. Azithromycin is often used in this situation. It is important to avoid sex until the syphilis sores are completely healed and a test confirms that the syphilis infection has gone. Remember that it is not just penetration and ejaculation that lead to transmission of syphilis. It is caught by close skin-to-skin (sexual) contact with the oozing fluid (serum) from the ulcer (chancre). Treatment during the primary or secondary stages of the disease will usually prevent any permanent long-term damage. Some of the problems associated with the final stage (tertiary syphilis) cannot be completely cured with antibiotics. However, antibiotic treatment may prevent further worsening of your condition. Heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) complications may still get worse, despite treatment.
It is important to tell your current sexual partner(s) so that they can also be tested and treated if necessary.

+Can syphilis be prevented?

If you practise safe sex,and always use a condom, your risk of catching syphilis (and other STIs) is very much reduced. However, condoms do not provide complete protection, as syphilis ulcers can sometimes be on areas not covered by a condom. If you have had syphilis and had it treated, you can still be re-infected if you have sex with an infected person. (The antibodies in your blood are not sufficient to protect you from another infection if you come into contact with syphilis again.)

+What should I do if I think I have syphilis?

If you suspect that you have syphilis, or another STI, then see your GP or contact your local GUM clinic. A quick reliable over counter rapid test will provide results in minutes.  

+How accurate are AlwaysAccurate™?

AlwaysAccurate ™and CliniHealth™ pregnancy tests are 99% accurate-callibrated according to WHO 4th international standards.

+Are all pregnancy tests the same?

It depends on the pregnancy test that you use. All pregnancy tests measure the amount of human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), the pregnancy hormone, in your body. Home pregnancy tests detect the presence of hCG in your urine.

+How does it work?

A third generation colliodal gold test contains an advanced membrane - this allows for rapid detection using high sensitivity regants-Only a fraction of rapid HCG tests on the market have been calibrated according to WORLD HEALTH STANDARDS  

+What is the sensitivity?

Some pregnancy tests are more sensitive than others. The more sensitive tests may be able to detect low levels of hCG as early as four days before your period is due, or seven days after conception. If you test too soon in pregnancy, even with a sensitive test, the amount of hCG in your urine may not be high enough to detect. Getting a false negative, when a test that says you are not pregnant and you are, can be stressful.
Avoid inferior tests – this results in unnecessary expectations.

+If I get a negative result?

A test may be negative for several reasons. You may not be pregnant. Or, you may have ovulated later than you thought, and not be as far along in pregnancy as you thought. One in 10 women can have very low levels of hCG levels at the time of a missed period. If you have a negative result, but still don’t get your period, test again three days later. If you are pregnant, the levels of hormone may build up enough by then to be picked up by the test. However you will not be offered a blood test for pregnancy until after your period is due, and even then only if there is a medical need.
Talk to others who are hoping to get pregnant by joining our Actively trying group. If you think you might be pregnant, check out the top 10 signs of pregnancy, or use our due date calculator to find out when you might be having a baby!

+DRUG TESTING

Some schools, hospitals, and places of employment conduct drug testing. There are a number of ways this can be done, including: pre-employment testing, random testing, reasonable suspicion/cause testing etc.This usually involves collecting urine samples to test for drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, PCP, and opiates.

+Drug Testing and Workplace Issues

According to recent data, 67.9 percent of all adult illegal drug users are employed full or part time, as are most binge and heavy alcohol users.1 Studies show that when compared with non-substance users, substance using employees are more likely to:
What is the effects of drug abuse to employers?
Change jobs frequently.
Be late to or absent from work.
Be less productive.
Be involved in a workplace accident and potentially harm others.
File a workers’ compensation claim.
Employers who have implemented drug-free workplace programs have important experiences to share.

Employers with successful drug-free workplace programs report improvements in morale and productivity, and decreases in absenteeism, accidents, downtime, turnover, and theft. Employers with long-standing programs report better health status among employees and family members and decreased use of medical benefits by these same groups.

+Can I use the tests on family members or private use?

Yes these are excellent for private use and can help in recovery programmes for family members.  

+How long can drugs be detected in the body with a drug test?

Many variables may affect the amount of time that a drug remains detectable in the urine or other biological samples, including a drug's half-life, the subject's state of hydration and fluid balance, frequency of use, route of administration, cut-off concentration used by the testing lab to detect the drug, and many other variables. Each person and circumstance is different, and the best way to avoid detection of an abused drug is to not use the drug.

+How long do drugs stay in the system?

Many drugs stay in the system from 2 to 4 days sometimes longer- although chronic use of marijuana can stay in the system for 3 to 4 weeks or even longer after the last use. Drugs with a long half-life, such as diazepam, may also stay in the system for a prolonged period of time.

+Are HIV rapid tests accurate?

Yes. Although there is an influx of inferior kits on the market- Using preferably a kit tested by WHO to ensure that the margin of error is limited and also to provide confidence to a medical technician. A 4th generation tests will pick up 95% of infections at 28 days after exposure. A confirmatory test three months after the exposure is always recommended. This is because 5% of people take this long to show a positive result. A positive test result is routinely confirmed using a different type of test called western blot. The western blot test looks for immune responses to specific HIV proteins. When used as a confirmatory test, the western blot result is 100% accurate. (This assumes that there is not a lab error and that it is your sample that has been tested).

+Can anything affect the result of my HIV test?

HIV antibody tests are not affected by other circumstances.
This includes infections, medications, most vaccinations, putting on weight, eating or drinking anything before the test, use of alcohol or recreational drugs, mouthwash or time of day.
Your test result is accurate even if you had flu or a cold or are using any medication.

+Do I need to take another test?

This will depend on how recent your last exposure.
As part of good practice, if the exposure was less than three months ago then testing at three months after exposure is usually recommended. .  

+Can it take longer than three months for a test to work?

This is so unlikely that guidelines consider a negative result three months after an exposure as being HIV negative.

+Is a negative test 100% accurate?

Obviously with so many inferior rapid tests on the market it is paramount that a WHO or NICD certified rapid kit is used in order to be confident on the test HIV tests after the 3 month window are more than 99.97% accurate. They work for all types and subtypes of HIV.
Very few medical tests have 100% accuracy. There will still be rare cases where someone is HIV positive and not picked up. However, HIV tests are one of the more accurate tests for any medical infection. Tests showing a negative result are ‘interpreted’ as negative. If the result is negative three months after exposure your result is interpreted as negative. This assumes you have had no further risks. At this point you can stop worrying. This is the purpose of testing. Learn from the experience you have gone through in taking a test.
Learn about how to protect yourself in the future so you don’t have to go through this stress again. This will enable you to make informed decisions and to look after your sexual health. If the result is negative four weeks after the exposure, this tells you that you are very likely to be HIV negative. The test after three months will confirm this.

+What is a ‘false negative’ test result?

A false negative test result occurs when the test shows negative and the person is really HIV positive.
This is very rare and usually occurs during the window period when people are newly infected but the test can’t quite pick up the infection. As with other types of tests, there is always be a small margin of error. With antibody-only tests (3rd generation) only 0.3% of tests (3 tests in every 1000) will be a false negative after 3 months. With 4th generation tests this is even lower. In practice, a negative result after three months means you do not have HIV.
You do not need to test again unless you expose yourself further in the future.

+What is a ‘false positive’ test result?

A false positive test is when the test result shows positive but the person is really negative. This can happen with antibody tests when the test picks up antibodies for other infectious agents. Approximately 1.5% (15 out of every 1000) antibody tests are a false positive. The fourth generation tests have a much lower chance of a false positive. This means that a small percentage of people who test positive on a rapid test (where the results are given within an hour) may turn out to be HIV negative. A second blood sample will be tested in a lab to look for this. If your blood test was originally performed in a laboratory, a positive result would have already been confirmed before giving you this result.

+How is it used?

The urinalysis is used as a screening and/or diagnostic tool because it can help detect substances or cellular material in the urine associated with different metabolic and kidney disorders. It is ordered widely and routinely to detect any abnormalities that require follow up. Often, substances such as protein or glucose will begin to appear in the urine before people are aware that they may have a problem. It is used to detect urinary tract infections (UTIs) and other disorders of the urinary tract. In those with acute or chronic conditions, such as kidney disease, the urinalysis may be ordered at intervals as a rapid method to help monitor organ function, status, and response to treatment.

+When is it done?

A routine urinalysis may be done when someone is admitted to the hospital. It may also be part of a wellness exam, a new pregnancy evaluation, or a work-up for a planned surgery. A urinalysis will most likely be performed when a person sees a health care provider complaining of symptoms of a UTI or other urinary system problem such as kidney disease. Some signs and symptoms may include:
Abdominal pain
Back pain
Painful or frequent urination
Blood in the urine
This test can also be useful when monitoring certain conditions over time.

+Why choose or range of Urinalysis?

  • Clear and reliable results – distinct colour changes in the test fields, high quality colour charts.
  • High sensitivity – low detection limit, high resistance towards interference by vitamin C (ascorbic acid) on glucose and blood (haemoglobin).
  • Easy to read – vertical colour scale, simultaneously read and compare all test fields.
  • Fast results – within 30 – 60 seconds for glucose, protein, nitrite, urobilinogen, blood, pH, ketone, bilirubin and specific gravity, within 60 – 120 seconds for leukocytes.
  • CE mark
  • Very cost effective – supplied in tubes of 100 strips, long shelf-life.
  • Easy to use – just dip and read the results visually, no instrumentation needed, clear instructions; flexible shape allows the examination of small amounts of urine.
 

+What does the test result mean?

Urinalysis results can have many interpretations. Abnormal findings are a warning that something may be wrong and should be evaluated further. Generally, the greater the concentration of the atypical substance, such as greatly increased amounts of glucose, protein, or red blood cells, the more likely it is that there is a problem that needs to be addressed. But the results do not tell the doctor exactly what the cause of the finding is or whether it is a temporary or chronic condition.
A normal urinalysis does not guarantee that there is no illness. Some people will not release elevated amounts of a substance early in a disease process, and some will release them sporadically during the day, which means that they may be missed by a single urine sample. In very dilute urine, small quantities of chemicals may be undetectable.

+Is there anything else I should know?

The urinalysis is a set of screening tests that can provide a general overview of a person's health. A doctor must correlate the urinalysis results with a person's symptoms and clinical findings and search for the causes of abnormal findings with other targeted tests, such as a comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP), complete blood count (CBC), or urine culture (to look for a urinary tract infection).

+What Is Hepatitis?

Hepatitis refers to an inflammatory condition of the liver. It’s commonly caused by a viral infection, but there are other possible causes of hepatitis. These include autoimmune hepatitis and hepatitis that occurs as a secondary result of medications, drugs, toxins, and alcohol. Autoimmune hepatitis is a disease that occurs when your body makes antibodies against your liver tissue.
The liver is located on the right upper quadrant of your abdomen. It performs many critical functions that affect metabolism throughout your body, including:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are 4.4 million Americans currently living with chronic hepatitis. Many more people don’t even know that they have it.

Hepatitis A
This type derives from an infection with the hepatitis A virus (HAV). This type of hepatitis is most commonly transmitted by consuming food or water contaminated by feces from a person infected with hepatitis A.
Hepatitis B
This type derives from an infection with the hepatitis B virus (HBV). This type is transmitted through puncture wounds or contact with infectious body fluids, such as blood, saliva, or semen. Injection drug use, having sex with an infected partner, or sharing razors with an infected person increase your risk of getting hepatitis B. It’s estimated by the CDC that 1.25 million people in the United States have chronic hepatitis B and 350 million people worldwide live with this chronic disease.
Hepatitis C
This type comes from the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Hepatitis C is transmitted through direct contact with infected body fluids, typically through injection drug use and sexual contact. HCV is among the most common blood-borne viral infections in the United States. Approximately 2.7 million Americans are currently living with a chronic form of this infection.
Hepatitis D
This is also called delta hepatitis. Hepatitis D is a serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis D virus (HDV). HDV is contracted through puncture wounds or contact with infected blood. Hepatitis D is a rare form of hepatitis that occurs in conjunction with hepatitis B infection. It’s very uncommon in the United States.
Hepatitis E
Hepatitis E is a waterborne disease caused by the hepatitis E virus (HEV). Hepatitis E is mainly found in areas with poor sanitation and is typically caused by ingesting fecal matter. This disease is uncommon in the United States. However, cases of hepatitis E have been reported in the Middle East, Asia, Central America, and Africa, reports the CDC.

Hepatitis A and E are normally contracted from eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water. Hepatitis B, C, and D are contracted through contaminated blood. These forms of hepatitis can be either acute or chronic. Types B and C usually become chronic.
Alcohol
Hepatitis can be caused by liver damage from excessive alcohol consumption. This is sometimes referred to as alcoholic hepatitis. The alcohol causes the liver to swell and become inflamed. Other toxic causes include overuse of medication or exposure to poisons.
Autoimmune Disease
The immune system may mistake the liver as a harmful object and begin to attack it, hindering liver function.

+Common Symptoms of Hepatitis

If you have forms of hepatitis that are usually chronic (hepatitis B and C), you may not have symptoms in the beginning. Symptoms may not occur until liver damage occurs.
Signs and symptoms of acute hepatitis appear quickly. They include:
Fatigue-flu-like symptoms-dark urine-pale stool-abdominal pain-loss of appetite-unexplained weight loss-yellow skin and eyes, which may be signs of jaundice Since chronic hepatitis develops slowly, these signs and symptoms may be too subtle to notice.

+How Is Hepatitis Diagnosed?

Rapid blood test
An over counter or consulting room rapid test kit can give you results in minutes on wheter you are affected by hepatitis. Blood tests used to detect the presence of hepatitis virus antibodies and antigen in the blood will indicate or confirm which virus is the cause of the hepatitis.
Physical Exam
During a physical examination, your doctor may press down gently on your abdomen to see if there’s pain or tenderness. Your doctor may also feel to see if your liver is enlarged. If your skin or eyes are yellow, your doctor will note this during the exam.
Viral Antibody Testing
Further viral antibody testing may be needed to determine if a specific type of the hepatitis virus is present.  

+Tips to Prevent Hepatitis

Practicing good hygiene is one key way to avoid contracting hepatitis. If you’re traveling to a developing country, you should avoid:
Drinking local water-Seafood –raw fruit and veg etc
Hepatitis contracted through contaminated blood can be prevented by:
not sharing drug needles/toothbrushes/ etc
not touching spilled blood.

+Complications of Hepatitis

Chronic liver disease
Cirrhosis (scarring of the liver)
Cancer of the liver
When the liver stops functioning normally, liver failure can occur. Complications of liver failure include:

  • Bleeding disorders
  • A buildup of fluid in the abdomen
  • Increased blood pressure in portal veins that enter the liver
  • Kidney failure
  • Hepatic encephalopathy, which can involve fatigue, memory loss, and diminished mental abilities due to the build up of toxins that affect the brain (especially ammonia)
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma, which is a form of liver cancer

+Understanding Malaria

Malaria is a very serious infection which you can catch from a bite from an infected mosquito. The most common symptoms are high temperature (fever) and a flu-like illness. The symptoms of malaria can occur even up to a year after travelling in an area in which malaria is present. Prompt treatment for malaria is essential, as without treatment it can be fatal.

+What is malaria?

Malaria is a serious infection. It is common in tropical countries such as parts of Southern Africa, Asia and South America.

+Where is Malaria predominant?

Of course not all of Southern Africa poses a malaria risk, but knowing which areas do is the first step to preventing infection.
Botswana
Malawi
Mozambique
Namibia
South Africa
South Africa poses a rather low threat of malaria. It is mildly present in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo (including the Kruger National Park), and Mpumalanga.
Zambia
Zimbabwe
Map
It was estimated that worldwide there were 214 million cases of clinical malaria in 2014 with nearly half of the world's population at risk of acquiring the infection
Note: if you feel unwell and have recently visited an area in which there is malaria, you should seek prompt medical advice, even if you have taken your anti-malarial medication correctly.  

+How is malaria transmitted?

The plasmodium parasite is usually transmitted by a particular species of mosquito, which is the anopheles mosquito.

+What are the symptoms of malaria?

Symptoms of malaria usually occur between one to four weeks after the initial mosquito bite. However, in some cases, depending on the type of plasmodium you are infected with, it can take up to a year before any symptoms start to show. This means that you should suspect malaria in anyone with a feverish illness who has travelled to a malaria area within the previous year, especially in the previous three months.
Other symptoms of benign malaria may include:
Headaches, muscle pains, tummy (abdominal) pains, cough, feeling more tired than usual and feeling generally unwell.

+How to detect malaria

Using a simple reliable self-use rapid test- a quick result can be obtained by yourself even in the remotest of areas-- If positive immediately contact a reliable health care practioner where another blood sample will be sent to a lab for verification.

+How is malaria treated?

If malaria is promptly diagnosed and treated, most people make a full recovery. Malaria is normally treated using anti-malarial medicines. Quinine, chloroquine and artesunate are some of the different types of medicines available.
The type of medicine prescribed and the duration of treatment can vary from person to person. It depends on various factors such as:
If the first anti-malarial medicine that you are prescribed fails to improve your symptoms, you may have to try a variety of other medicines as part of your treatment. You may find that your treatment for malaria leaves you feeling very weak and tired for several weeks afterwards. Some of the medications that are considered safe include: Chloroquine –Doxycycline- Malarone - Malareich Mefloquine and Proguanil

+How can malaria be prevented?

There is an 'ABCD' of malaria prevention. This is:

Awareness of risk of malaria.
Bite prevention.
Chemoprophylaxis (taking anti-malarial medication regularly and exactly as prescribed).
Prompt Diagnosis and treatment.

+What Are Blood Sugar Levels?

When we eat foods that contain carbohydrates, the digestion process turns them into sugars that are released into blood. Those sugars are then transported through the blood and travel to the cells. The pancreas, a small organ in the abdomen, releases a hormone called insulin to meet the sugar at the cell. Insulin will connect onto spots on some cells of the body and act as a “bridge,” allowing the sugar to go from the blood and into the cell. The cell uses sugar for energy, and blood sugar levels go down.
With diabetes, there is either a problem with the cell using insulin, a problem with the pancreas producing insulin, or both.
With type 1 diabetes, the body stops making insulin completely.
With type 2 diabetes, it is usually a mix of the cells not using insulin well (which is called insulin resistance) and the pancreas not making enough insulin.
With prediabetes, it is usually a problem with the cells not using insulin well.
When a person has diabetes, his or her body is not able to get the sugar from the blood into the cells. This causes high levels of blood sugar. This frequently happens after consuming a meal high in carbohydrates.

+When to Check Blood Glucose Levels?

Talk to you doctor or healthcare providers about the best times to check your blood glucose, as optimal times vary by person.
Some options include:
after fasting and/or before meals
before and after meals, to see the impact that the meal had on your blood sugar
before all meals to decide how much insulin to inject
at bedtime
when you wake up in the morning
Bring a record of your blood sugar results to doctors’ appointments so you can review it and make changes to your treatment if necessary.  

+How to Check?

A blood sample is required to check blood glucose levels. The most common type of blood glucose monitor requires using a lancet to prick the end of your finger to draw a small drop of blood. This drop is then placed on a disposable testing strip that is inserted into an electronic blood glucose meter. The meter measures the level of glucose in the sample and returns a number on a digital readout.

+Recommended Blood Sugar Targets

Blood glucose numbers are measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).
The American Diabetes Association recommends the following blood glucose targets for people with type 2 diabetes:
Before meals: from 70 to 130 for adults.
Two hours after eating a meal: less than 180 for adults.
The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and the International Diabetes Federation recommend glucose levels under 110 for fasting and before meals, and under 140 two hours after starting a meal.