30-minute chlamydia test could boost screening

A test for chlamydia that can produce results in just 30 minutes has been developed by UK scientists.

It is hoped that the test could be used to boost uptake levels of the UK's National Chlamydia Screening Programme.

Currently, it uses nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) to diagnose the infection. But these tests require costly machines, specially trained staff and can take up to two weeks to produce the results, a delay which is believed to be off-putting for many people.

The chlamydia rapid test is an immunoassay-based test that detects chlamydial lipopolysaccharide. Within 30 minutes, it gives results in a similar manner to a pregnancy test by producing two blue lines for a positive test result, one for a negative result and no line if the test has not worked.

Researchers decided to compare the effectiveness of the chlamydia rapid test with NAATs.

It focused on 1,349 women, aged between 16 and 54, who provided two vaginal swabs and a urine sample when they attended a GUM clinic.

Each participant provided two self collected vaginal swabs and a urine sample. These were then tested using both tests.

The chlamydia rapid test was found to be accurate, achieving a high diagnostic sensitivity of 83.5 per cent - a comparable sensitivity to the 86.7 per cent noted with the NAATs test.

Its major advantage was that patients were given results while they were still at the clinic.

Lead researcher Dr Helen Lee, from the department of haematology at the University of Cambridge, said: 'This new test indicates that it would be an effective same-day diagnostic and screening tool for chlamydia infection of women.

'It could also provide a simple and reliable alternative to NAATs within chlamydia screening programmes.'

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

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