Development and implementation of a training system for syphilis point-of-care testing in primary care settings

A. Rivers-Kennedy, E. de Courcy-Ireland, V. Woelk, E. Prisk, E. Phillips, K. Alexander, M. Bacon, L. Bastian, L. Tomney, K. Andrewartha, S. Matthews, M. Shephard

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Background: An outbreak of infectious syphilis has progressively spread across Queensland, Northern Territory, Western Australia, and South Australia, disproportionately affecting Indigenous peoples and other at-risk populations. In 2018, the Australian Government established the ‘Enhanced Syphilis Response (ESR) Point-of-Care Testing Program’ to support Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations (ACCHOs) in outbreak regions. A complimentary program was initiated by the WA Department of Health (WA DoH) in 2020 to expand reach beyond ACCHOs. Here we describe the training system for syphilis point-of-care testing (POCT) in primary care settings.

Methods: The Abbott Determine™ Syphilis TP immunochromatographic test strip was selected for use by an Australian Government commissioned working group. A training resource package was initially developed by the Flinders University International Centre for Point-of-Care Testing in collaboration with the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and was reviewed and updated regularly. The package included a resource manual, reference posters, training presentations, competency assessments, website, and an online learning management system (under development). Two modes of training were offered to health professionals; basic training which enabled client and quality syphilis POCT, and advanced training which enabled staff to on-train POCT to others. Training was delivered on-site, at regional workshops, or online.

Results: At November 2022, the number of active health services in the ESR and WA DoH syphilis POCT programs was 116 and 44, respectively. The number of competent operators was 1003 in ESR and 365 in WA DoH. Eighty-four percent of ESR operators and 70% of WA operators completed basic training, while 16% and 30% completed advanced training, respectively.

Conclusion: The provision of flexible training resources and modes of learning has resulted in the scale-up of a sustainable and competent workforce to conduct syphilis POCT. The programs have proven valuable in screening patients for treatment, reducing loss to follow-up, and preventing onward transmission.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2023
EventAustralasian Conference on Point of Care Testing for Infectious Diseases - Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park, Sydney, Australia
Duration: 14 Mar 202315 Mar 2023
Conference number: 1st (Conference link)


ConferenceAustralasian Conference on Point of Care Testing for Infectious Diseases
Abbreviated titlePOC23
OtherTo accelerate access to new point-of-care technology, we need research in all these areas to provide the most effective implementation pathways. To respond to this evolving challenge, ASHM and the RAPID Point of Care Research Consortium for infectious disease in the Asia Pacific made the decision to run this two-day conference.

The conference will collaborate with leading scientists, clinicians, and other stakeholders to develop a program on the ever-evolving landscape of point-of-care testing for infectious diseases and provide time to discuss challenges and solutions to scaling up point-of-care testing in this setting.
Internet address


  • syphilis
  • Point of care testing
  • operator
  • training


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