Table 1

Key features of commonly available diagnostic tests for Trichomonas vaginalis infection

CategoryTestSensitivity range* (%)Specificity range* (%)AdvantagesLimitationsReferences
Direct microscopyWet mount44–68100Same day results, inexpensiveLow sensitivity, requires trained microscopist, not for use in men11–13 w1 w2
Conventional Pap44–7983–99Convenient for women undergoing cervical cancer screeningLow sensitivity and specificity, requires confirmatory testing, requires trained microscopist, several days for results, not for use in men15 16
Liquid Pap60–9698–100Improved sensitivity and specificity versus conventional PapRequires trained microscopist, several days for results, not for use in men15 16
CultureDiamond's modified medium or InPouch44–75100Improved sensitivity versus microscopy, antimicrobial susceptibility testing possibleRequires trained microscopist, incubator and controlled temperature transport, up to a week for results11 12 w1 w3 w4
Non-amplified molecular testsOSOM rapid antigen test77–9899–100Same day results, minimal training required, no equipment needed, specimen transport delays toleratedNot for use in asymptomatic women or in men13 17–19
Kalon TV agglutination55–9992–100Same day results, minimal training required, no equipment needed, specimen transport delays toleratedNot for use in asymptomatic women or in men9 20
Affirm VP III nucleic acid probe hybridisation64100Same day results possible, Gardnerella and yeast detection included, specimen transport delays toleratedModerate complexity, some training and equipment required, not for use in asymptomatic women or in men21
NAATsAPTIMA TV88–10098–100Highly sensitive and specific, specimens compatible with testing for other STIs, specimen transport delays tolerated, performs well with specimens from menExpensive, requires laboratory equipment and highly trained personnel, several days for results, persistent positives following treatment possible12 13 21 w2
Inhouse PCR76–10096–100Highly sensitive and specific, specimens compatible with testing for other STIs, specimen transport delays tolerated, performs well with specimens from menExpensive, requires laboratory equipment and highly trained personnel, several days for results, persistent positives following treatment possible12 w1 w3–w6
  • *Wide ranges for sensitivity and specificity result from the use of different reference standards in published studies.

  • NAAT, nucleic acid amplification test; Pap, Papanicolaou; STI, sexually transmitted infection; TV, Trichomonas vaginalis.