OBJECTIVES: With accurate molecular tests now available for diagnosis of chlamydia and gonorrhoea (Chlamydia trachomatis (CT)/Neisseria gonorrhoeae (NG)) at the point-of-care (POC), we aimed to explore the public health implications (benefits and barriers) of their integration into remote primary care in Australia.
METHODS: Qualitative interviews were conducted with a purposively selected group of 18 key informants reflecting sexual health, primary care, remote Aboriginal health and laboratory expertise.
RESULTS: Participants believed that POC testing may decrease community prevalence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and associated morbidity by reducing the time to treatment and infectious period and expediting partner notification. Also, POC testing could improve acceptability of STI testing, increase testing coverage and result in more targeted prescribing, thereby minimising the risk of antibiotic resistance. Conversely, some felt the immediacy of diagnosis could deter certain young people from being tested. Participants also noted that POC testing may reduce the completeness of communicable disease surveillance data given the current dependence on reporting from pathology laboratories. Others expressed concern about the need to maintain and improve the flow of NG antibiotic sensitivity data, already compromised by the shift to nucleic acid-based testing. This is particularly relevant to remote areas where culture viability is problematic.
CONCLUSIONS: Results indicate a high level of support from clinicians and public health practitioners for wider access to CT/NG POC tests citing potential benefits, including earlier, more accurate treatment decisions and reductions in ongoing transmission. However, the data also highlight the need for new systems to avoid adverse impact on disease surveillance.
TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN12613000808741.
- INFECTIOUS DISEASES
- PUBLIC HEALTH
- QUALITATIVE RESEARCH