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Rapid, point-of-care tests for syphilis: The future of diagnosis
Date:2/27/2013

Montreal, February 27th Syphilis is on the rise worldwide and there is an urgent need for reliable and rapid screening, particularly for people who live in areas where access to healthcare is limited. An international research team, led by scientists at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) in Montreal, has demonstrated that rapid and point-of-care tests (POC) for syphilis are as accurate as conventional laboratory tests. The findings, which were published in PLoS ONE, call for a major change in approach to syphilis testing and recommend replacing first line laboratory tests with POC tests globally, especially in resource-limited settings.

"There is a need to embrace rapid and POC tests for syphilis in global settings," argues Dr. Nitika Pant Pai, the study's senior and corresponding author, clinical researcher at the RI-MUHC and assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at McGill University. "This meta-analysis generates global evidence across all populations for POC tests for syphilis and is the first to use sophisticated analyses to explore the accuracy of POC tests compared to the best reference standards."

Currently, syphilis is screened using conventional laboratory-based tests that can take up to three weeks to deliver results. These tests require chemical agents, trained staff and a continuous supply of electricity, which are not readily available in some parts of the world. Rapid and POC tests can be performed on a simple finger stick sample one patient at a time, and the results communicated to the patient within 20 minutes, saving time and helping doctors order confirmatory tests and rapidly flagging patients who need treatment.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the rod-like bacterium Treponema pallidum. It is transmitted between sexual partners through direct contact with a Syphilis sore. It may also be transmitted from mother to foetus during pregna
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Contact: Julie Robert
julie.robert@muhc.mcgill.ca
514-934-1934 x71381
McGill University Health Centre
Source:Eurekalert

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