Performance of the Syphilis Health Check in Clinic and Laboratory-Based Settings
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Performance of the Syphilis Health Check in Clinic and Laboratory-Based Settings

  • Published Date:

    Apr 2019

  • Source:
    Sex Transm Dis. 2019; 46(4):250-253
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  • Alternative Title:
    Sex Transm Dis
  • Description:
    Background In this study, we evaluate the performance of the Syphilis Health Check (SHC) in clinical and laboratory settings using fingerstick whole blood and serum. Methods Fingerstick whole blood and serum specimens from adult patients (n = 562) without prior syphilis history presenting at 2 county health department STD clinics in North Carolina were tested. Fingerstick specimens were tested with the SHC in clinic, and serum specimens were tested at the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health with: (1) qualitative rapid plasma reagin, (2) treponemal EIA, and (3) SHC. Sensitivity and specificity were calculated with 95% confidence intervals. Results The fingerstick whole blood had a sensitivity of 100% (7 of 7) and specificity of 95.7% (531 of 555), compared with consensus reference testing (CRT) (rapid plasma reagin and EIA reactive), but a sensitivity of 50% (8 of 16), and specificity of 95.9% (523 of 546), when compared with the treponemal EIA. Both laboratory-based SHC on serum and whole-blood SHC performed similarly, compared with CRT, and the treponemal EIA alone. Twenty-four specimens SHC reactive on whole blood were nonreactive by CRT. In 8 of these 24 cases, STD clinic staff reported difficulty reading the test line for the SHC. Of the fingerstick whole-blood SHC reactive specimens, only 14 of 31 were also serum SHC reactive. Conclusions The SHC on whole blood appears to be sensitive at detecting patients likely to have syphilis and could be an option for testing among high-risk populations. However, given challenges in interpreting SHC test results, adequate training of persons performing testing and ongoing quality assurance measures are key.
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