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The diagnosis of chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and trichomonas infections by self obtained low vaginal swabs, in remote northern Australian clinical practice
  1. S C Garrow1,
  2. D W Smith2,
  3. G B Harnett2
  1. 1Kimberley Public Health Unit, PMB 912, Derby, WA, 6728 Australia
  2. 2Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, The Western Australian Centre for Pathology and Medical Research, Hospital Avenue, Nedlands, WA 6009, Australia
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Stuart Garrow, North Peterborough Primary Care Trust, St John’s, Thorpe Road, Peterborough PE3 6JG, UK;


Objective: To examine the diagnostic performance of self obtained low vaginal swabs (SOLVS) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) techniques in the diagnosis of Chlamydia trachomatis (CT), Neisseria gonorrhoeae (NG), and Trichomonas vaginalis (TV) infection in a variety of clinical practice settings in remote north western Australia.

Design: A cross sectional field study of microbiological collection techniques in women undergoing gynaecological investigation in remote settings performed by a variety of practitioner types over 10 months.

Participants and setting: 349 women from remote towns and communities in the Kimberley region of north west Western Australia having gynaecological examinations for clinical reasons, well women screening, antenatal screening, and sexual health examinations.

Results: The overall prevalence of infection in the study population based on any positive conventional sample was 9.2%, 7.6%, and 16.1% for CT, NG, and TV respectively. The detection rates for CT and NG by SOLVS were 89% and 96% respectively, compared with 79% and 91% for endocervical swabs and 79% and 83% for first void urine. SOLVS had a sensitivity of 93% for TV detection, equal to that of clinician obtained low vaginal swabs. None of these differences reached statistical significance. A combination of SOLVS and first void urine detected 96% of the CT cases, 100% of the NG cases, and 96% of TV cases.

Conclusions: Self obtained low vaginal swabs are an acceptable, simple and sensitive diagnostic sample for the detection of CT, NG, and TV, and have particular applications in remote clinical practice and as a screening technique.

  • polymerase chain reaction
  • vaginal swabs
  • sexually transmitted infection
  • Australia
  • CT, Chlamydia trachomatis
  • ECS, endocervical swab
  • FVU, first void urine
  • NG, Neisseria gonorrhoeae
  • PCR, polymerase chain reaction
  • self obtained low vaginal swabs
  • TV, Trichomonas vaginalis

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