A new test for chlamydia can provide results within 30 minutes, potentially speeding up the start of treatment, researchers say.
The rapid test for the sexually transmitted disease (STD) means patients can receive treatment immediately, instead of having to wait for a follow-up appointment. This could help reduce the spread of the disease, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
Called a "point-of-care" test, the screening gives accurate results 93% of the time for a positive result and 99% of the time for a negative result, the investigators found. The study was funded by the US National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB).
"Point-of-care tests for STDs are making significant progress towards being highly sensitive, specific and easy to read within a short wait time," Tiffani Bailey Lash said in an institute news release. She is director of NIBIB programs in point-of-care technologies.
Study leader Charlotte Gaydos said the goal of point-of-care technology is to deliver quick results and give patients more options.
"A patient should be able to choose if they come into a clinic, go to a pharmacy, or take a test at home for STD diagnosis; the bottom line is to encourage people to get tested," said Gaydos, a professor of infectious diseases.
People with STDs often don't have obvious symptoms, which means they can unknowingly spread the diseases. Currently, patients wait two to 14 days for STD test results, and those who have been tested have low rates of return to receive results, counselling and treatment.
Women with untreated chlamydia can develop pelvic inflammatory disease. In men, untreated chlamydia can cause urethral infection and complications such as swollen and tender testicles.
The Johns Hopkins team is collaborating on a clinical trial that could lead to the approval of a chlamydia and gonorrhoea point-of-care test in the United States.
The need is urgent, the researchers said. Government health officials reported a 10% increase in STDs between 2016 and 2017.
The report was published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases.
Image credit: iStock