"It was difficult to offer same day results": evaluation of community-based point-of-care testing for sexually transmitted infections among youth using the GeneXpert platform in Zimbabwe

BMC Health Serv Res. 2022 Feb 10;22(1):171. doi: 10.1186/s12913-022-07557-7.


Background: Point-of-care testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) may improve diagnosis and treatment of STIs in low- and middle-income counties. We explored the facilitators and barriers to point-of-care testing for Chlamydia trachomatis (CT) and Neisseria gonorrhoea (NG) for youth in community-based settings in Zimbabwe.

Methods: This study was nested within a cluster randomised trial of community-based delivery of integrated HIV and sexual and reproductive health services for youth aged 16 to 24 years. On-site CT/NG testing on urine samples using the Xpert® CT/NG test was piloted in four intervention clusters, with testing performed by service providers. On-site testing was defined as sample processing on the same day and site as sample collection. Outcomes included proportion of tests processed on-site, time between sample collection and collection of results, and proportion of clients receiving treatment. In-depth interviews were conducted with nine service providers and three staff members providing study co-ordination or laboratory support to explore facilitators and barriers to providing on-site CT/NG testing.

Results: Of 847 Xpert tests, 296 (35.0%) were performed on-site. Of these, 61 (20.6%) were positive for CT/NG; one (1.6%) received same day aetiological treatment; 33 (54.1%) presented later for treatment; and 5 (8.2%) were treated as a part of syndromic management. There was no difference in the proportion of clients who were treated whether their sample was processed on or off-site (64% (39/61) vs 60% (66/110); p = 0.61). The median (IQR) number of days between sample collection and collection of positive results was 14 (7-35) and 14 (7-52.5) for samples processed on and off-site, respectively, The interviews revealed four themes related to the provision of on-site testing associated with the i) diagnostic device ii) environment, iii) provider, and iv) clients. Some of the specific barriers identified included insufficient testing capacity, inadequate space, as well as reluctance of clients to wait for their results.

Conclusions: In addition to research to optimise the implementation of point-of-care tests for STIs in resource-limited settings, the development of new platforms to reduce analytic time will be necessary to scale up STI testing and reduce the attrition between testing and treatment.

Trial registration: Registered in clinical trials.gov ( NCT03719521 ).

Keywords: Africa; Community-based settings; Gonorrhoea; Point-of-care tests; Sexually transmitted infections; Youth; chlamydia.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Chlamydia Infections* / diagnosis
  • Chlamydia Infections* / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections*
  • Humans
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae / genetics
  • Point-of-Care Testing
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Young Adult
  • Zimbabwe / epidemiology

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03719521