Point-of-care testing for sexually transmitted infections: recent advances and implications for disease control

Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2013 Feb;26(1):73-9. doi: 10.1097/QCO.0b013e32835c21b0.


Purpose of review: Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) remain a major global public health issue, with more than 448 million incident bacterial infections each year. We review recent advances in STI point-of-care (POC) testing and implications for STI prevention and control.

Recent findings: Accurate immunochromatographic assays to detect HIV, hepatitis C virus (HCV) and syphilis antibodies have made home or supervised self-testing possible. Several studies have demonstrated feasibility and excellent test characteristics for HIV, HCV and syphilis POC tests. Rapid oral HIV tests are now available for purchase at retail sites across the United States. Combined HIV and syphilis tests using a single finger prick blood sample are under evaluation.

Summary: Oral POC STI tests with comparable performance to blood-based POC tests are available for self-testing. POC tests can expand screening, improve syndromic management and reduce loss to follow up. POC STI tests have the potential to facilitate prompt treatment and partner services. POC STI tests create opportunities for new social and financial models of community-based testing services. Increasing equity and access to testing will create challenges in linkage to care, quality assurance, partner services and surveillance. These important developments warrant research to understand appropriate contexts for implementation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • HIV Infections / diagnosis*
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • Hepatitis C / diagnosis*
  • Hepatitis C / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Point-of-Care Systems*
  • Saliva / microbiology
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / prevention & control
  • Syphilis / diagnosis*
  • Syphilis / prevention & control
  • United States