Specimen culture

When and why

Specimen cultures are tests to diagnose the cause of an infection, particularly if the symptoms are fever, diarrhoea, cough, and breathlessness. These tests involve placing specimens, e.g. urine, stool, blood, a swab, and sputum onto a special culture medium or plates that allow any infecting organisms (such as bacteria, viruses, or fungi) to grow. If a bacterium is grown, the sensitivity of the organism can then be tested against various antibiotics to determine the right treatment. Apart from bodily fluids, other specimens that can be sent for culture include tissue samples obtained by biopsy.

How it will help

Many infections can occur in HIV infection. Identification of a causative agent is essential to ensure a correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Sometimes it can be very difficult to identify the cause of a problem; multiple specimens and types of specimens taken over time from different areas may be required before the laboratory can culture the organism responsible.

Community Consensus Statement on Access to HIV Treatment and its Use for Prevention

Together, we can make it happen

We can end HIV soon if people have equal access to HIV drugs as treatment and as PrEP, and have free choice over whether to take them.

Launched today, the Community Consensus Statement is a basic set of principles aimed at making sure that happens.

The Community Consensus Statement is a joint initiative of AVAC, EATG, MSMGF, GNP+, HIV i-Base, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, ITPC and NAM/aidsmap

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.

NAM’s information is intended to support, rather than replace, consultation with a healthcare professional. Talk to your doctor or another member of your healthcare team for advice tailored to your situation.