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PROVE

Projects

The Ancillary Study of ARISE: Validation of Selected Point-of-Care Rapid STI Diagnostic Tests for Laboratory-Based and Self-Testing.

Rationale

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like Chlamydia Trachomatis (CT), Neisseria Gonorrhea (NG), and Trichomonas Vaginalis (TV) pose significant health challenges in East and southern Africa, especially among younger women in South Africa. These infections can profoundly impact sexual, reproductive, and overall health, also increasing the risk of HIV acquisition and transmission. Timely detection and treatment are crucial for their management. While local guidelines advocate syndromic treatment, a large portion of STI cases, including asymptomatic ones, remain undetected and untreated, leading to ongoing transmission and potential drug-resistant strains.

To enhance case detection rates, highly sensitive and specific tests are needed for effective screening in asymptomatic key populations. Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) like the Cepheid CT/NG and TV GeneXpert rapid PCR test are the gold standards for detecting these infections, yet they are costly and require complex laboratory setups, limiting their immediate clinical utility. Moreover, STIs remain a sensitive topic, often stigmatized or difficult to access due to social biases and judgment fears.

The concept of self-testing, pioneered in HIV testing, has alleviated stigma and increased convenience. Extending this to common STIs like NG, CT, and TV is the logical next step to enable discreet and timely risk assessment and management, especially for asymptomatic cases. Recent studies show high acceptability and feasibility of self-collected swabs for STI testing, paving the way for consumer-driven testing. We aim to validate commercially available STI point-of-care (POC) rapid kits for onsite and self-testing among participants in the ARISE study, bridging the gap for accessible and independent STI screening and management.

Investigators

  • Krishnaveni Reddy (Principal Investigator)
  • Prof. Thesla Palanee-Phillips (Co-Principal Investigator)
  • Prof. Jennifer Balkus (Co-Principal Investigator)
  • Prof. Renee Heffron (Co-Principal Investigator)

Latest Update

March 2024

For more details about PROVE please email rhicomms@wrhi.ac.za

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