One Vaginal Swab Can Detect Multiple Diseases and Infections

Image of vials being loaded onto Panther Instrument

Combined with highly sensitive NAAT assays, vaginal swabs provide more answers for sexual and vaginal health.

With the rate of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) on the rise domestically and worldwide, laboratories must empower healthcare providers (HCPs) to use the most accurate and effective diagnostic tools available. When it comes to sample collection to test for urogenital infection, the evidence is clear: vaginal swabs are superior to urine testing for STIs.1-5 Yet, despite more than a decade’s worth of data to support such findings, urine tests remain common practice. As a result, undetected or misdiagnosed infections may be exacerbating factors contributing to the dramatic increase in STI rates overall.

Accurately diagnosing STIs is complicated by asymptomatic infections, overlap in symptoms when they do present, and frequent co-infection with more than one pathogen. By encouraging HCPs to follow the latest CDC guidelines recommending vaginal swab collection, laboratories can streamline their inventory of assays while, at the same time, broadening their capacity for accurate STI detection.6-7

For instance, the Aptima® Multitest Swab facilitates testing for up to seven infections and disease states from one vaginal sample, including often overlooked STIs like Mycoplasma genitalium (M. gen), which may otherwise be misdiagnosed as chlamydia or gonorrhea.8-12 Integrity of the sample is further maintained by a direct load workflow in which the Aptima® tubes with penetrable caps go directly into the Panther® system, thereby reducing potential contamination and labor. By running an expansive menu of STI assays on one vaginal sample, turnaround time can be reduced, helping facilitate faster treatment with greater efficacy for patients diagnosed with one or more STIs.

The Aptima® Multitest Swab also offers convenience and comfort that may help overcome certain barriers to sexual testing. In addition to reducing the likelihood of callbacks and retesting, women surveyed prefer vaginal swabs over urine collection,13 and self-collected vaginal samples are as sensitive as clinician-collected vaginal swab samples.7 Laboratories equipped with these tools can educate and empower HCPs—and by extension their patients—about the many benefits of the Aptima® Multitest Swab and perhaps foster greater willingness to follow routine and response testing guidelines. We all know that increased testing is an important way to reverse the concerning rate of STIs, and one simple swab could play a very big role in that effort.

    1. Schachter J, Chernesky MA, Willis DE, Fine PM, Martin DH, Fuller D, et al. Vaginal swabs are the specimens of choice when screening for Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae: results from a multicenter evaluation of the APTIMA assays for both infections. Sex Transm Dis. 2005 Dec;32(12):725-8. 2.  Van Der Pol B, Fife K, Taylor SN, Nye MB, Chavoustie SE, Eisenberg DL, et al. Evaluation of the performance of the Cobas CT/NG test for use on the Cobas 6800/8800 systems for detection of Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae in male and female urogenital samples. J Clin Microbiol. 2019;57(4):e01996-18. 3. Coorevits L, Traen A, Bingé L, Van Dorpe J, Praet M, Boelens J, et al.: Identifying a consensus sample type to test for Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Mycoplasma genitalium, Trichomonas vaginalis and human papillomavirus. Clin Microbiol Infect. 2018;24(12):1328-1332. 4. Chernesky MA, Jang D, Gilchrist J, Hatchette T, Poirier A, Flandin J-F, et al. Head-to-head comparison of second-generation nucleic acid amplification tests for detection of Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae on urine samples from female subjects and self-collected vaginal swabs. J Clin Microbiol. 2014;52(7):2305-2310. 5. Van Der Pol, B, Williams JA, Fuller D, Taylor SN, Hook EW. Combined testing for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Trichomonas by use of the BD Max CT/GC/TV Assay with genitourinary specimen types. J Clin Microbiol. 2016;55(1):155-164. 6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommendations for the laboratory-based detection of Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae—2014. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2014 Mar 14;63(RR-02):1-19. 7. Workowski KA, Bachman LH, Chan PA, Johnston CM, Muzny CA, Park I, et al. Sexually transmitted infections treatment guidelines, 2021. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2021 Jul 23;70(4):1-187. 8. Aptima Combo 2 Assay [package insert]. AW-20535, San Diego,CA; Hologic, Inc., 2021. 9. Aptima Mycoplasma genitalium assay [package insert]. AW-17946, San Diego, CA; Hologic, Inc., 2022. 10. Aptima CV/TV assay [package insert]. AW-18812, San Diego, CA;Hologic, Inc., 2021. 11. Aptima BV assay [package insert]. AW-18811, San Diego, CA; Hologic, Inc., 2020. 12. 12. Martin DH. Mycoplasma genitalium infection in men and women. UpToDate. April 2, 2021. Accessed July 27, 2021. 13. Chernesky MA, Hook EW, Martin DH, Lane J, Johnson R, Jordan JA, et al. Women find it easy and prefer to collect their own vaginal swabs to diagnose Chlamydia trachomatis or Neisseria gonorrhoeae infections. Sex Transm Dis. 2005;32(12):729-733.