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Sex Transm Dis. 1996 Jul-Aug;23(4):342-9.

Laboratory diagnosis of sexually transmitted diseases in facilities within the United States. Results of a national survey.

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Division of STD Laboratory Research, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.



The diagnosis of many sexually transmitted diseases (STD) requires laboratory testing. The authors assessed the effects of the introduction of new tests and regulations on STD testing.


A questionnaire survey was mailed to a random sample of facilities listed in the STD Referral Database inquiring about tests offered, changes in testing, and reasons for changes.


Responses from 405 facilities were analyzed. Most responding facilities collected specimens for nontreponemal tests for syphilis (352 of 405 [86.9%]). Since each facility's information was last updated, the number reporting testing for Chlamydia trachomatis rose from 160 of 405 (39.5%) to 288 of 405 (71.1%), but testing for gonorrhea and chancroid decreased (365 of 405 [90.1%] to 328 of 405 [81%], and 182 of 405 [44.9%] to 32 of 405 [7.9%], respectively). Of 364 responses to a question on changes in tests performed in the last 2 years, 249 (68.4%) reported no change, 81 (22.3%) reported an increase, and 37 (10.2%) reported a decrease. The most frequently added tests were nonculture tests for C. trachomatis (34 of 81 [42%]) and the most frequent reason for adding tests was targeted funding (25 of 81 [30.9%]). The most frequently discontinued tests were cultures and gram stains for gonorrhea (15 of 37 [40.5%]) and other in-house tests (9 of 37 [24.3%]). Most facilities that discontinued testing cited the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act as the reason (34 of 37 [91.9%]; 95% confidence interval = 78.1%, 98.3%).


The number of facilities testing for C. trachomatis has increased with funding and with the availability of nonculture tests, but the number of those testing for chancroid and gonorrhea has decreased. Implementation of the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act may be associated with a decrease in the number of facilities performing tests for STD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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