Importance: Rates of chlamydial and gonococcal infection continue to increase in the United States, as do the associated costs of untreated infections. Improved diagnostic technologies that support testing and treating in 1 clinical visit are critical to advancing efforts to control the rates of chlamydial and gonococcal infection.
Objective: To evaluate the clinical performance of a point-of-care (POC) molecular diagnostic assay for the detection of chlamydia and gonorrhea.
Design, setting, and participants: A noninterventional, cross-sectional clinical study was conducted from September 18, 2018, through March 13, 2019, at sexually transmitted infection (STI), HIV, family planning, and obstetrics and gynecology clinics where STI screening is routine, using a convenience sample and comparing commercially available assays with a new 30-minute POC assay. Patients included were those eligible for STI screening or diagnostic testing who had not taken antibiotics effective against chlamydia or gonorrhea within the previous 28 days. Four vaginal swab samples were collected from women and a first-catch urine sample was obtained from men.
Main outcomes and measures: A composite infection status was used to classify participants as infected if 2 or more comparator results were positive, as not infected if 2 or more comparator samples were negative, and as unevaluable if 1 result was invalid and the other 2 results did not agree with each other.
Results: Swab samples from 1523 women (median age, 27 years [interquartile range, 17-37 years]), 817 (53.6%) of whom presented with symptoms, and 922 men (median age, 29 years [interquartile range, 17-41 years]), 308 (33.4%) of whom were symptomatic, were tested. For chlamydia, sensitivity of the new POC assay was 96.1% (95% CI, 91.2%-98.3%) for women and 92.5% (95% CI, 86.4%-96.0%) for men. For gonorrhea, sensitivity estimates were 100.0% (95% CI, 92.1%-100.0%) for women and 97.3% (95% CI, 90.7%-99.3%) for men. For chlamydia, specificity of the new POC assay was 99.1% (95% CI, 98.4%-99.5%) for women and 99.3% (95% CI, 98.4%-99.7%) for men. For gonorrhea, specificity estimates were 99.9% (95% CI, 99.5%-100%) for women and 100% (95% CI, 95.5%-100%) for men. Non-laboratory-trained personnel performed 94.8% of all tests (2318 of 2445) during the study.
Conclusions and relevance: This study suggests that self-obtained vaginal swab samples were associated with performance equivalent to laboratory-based molecular diagnostics, which can support use of this POC assay in many settings. The availability of an easy-to-use, rapid (30-minute) molecular test for accurate detection of chlamydia and gonorrhea has the power to facilitate testing and treatment in a single patient visit for these STIs.