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    Vaginal self-sampling for STIs

    Vaginal self-sampling using a proprietary device (HerSwab) gets high ratings from users and represents a suitable method for the diagnosis of Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae infections, according to the findings of a recently published study that compared the HerSwab with physician-collected vaginal samples.

    The device, which is still investigational in the United States, was developed for sexually transmitted infection (STI) screening. It allows for self-collection of vaginal samples that are transported dry inside the device, to a laboratory for analysis.

    “Screening programs are in place to detect and treat STIs in the lower genital tract as these infections may be asymptomatic and ascend into the upper tract, causing complications. Because of privacy concerns and a variety of other reasons, teenage girls and women may be reluctant to undergo specimen collection performed by a healthcare provider,” said Max A Chernesky, PhD, senior author and professor emeritus, Departments of Pediatrics, and Pathology and Molecular Medicine, McMaster University.

    “Our assessment of the self-collection device indicates it is a viable option for overcoming this barrier to STI screening."  Larger studies are needed to evaluate the accuracy of the self-collected specimens.

    The study evaluating patient acceptance and the diagnostic performance of the self-sampling device was conducted by researchers at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton/McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and published in the February 2016 issue of Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

    It included 189 women ages 16 to 41 years who were recruited from a street youth clinic or therapeutic abortion clinic. All women performed self-collection and underwent physician sampling using a commercially available product that uses specimen transport media (Aptima, Hologic). For each participant, the order of the two sampling techniques was determined by randomization.

     

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