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Trichomonas vaginalis (TV) is a protozoan parasite that commonly infects the genital tract of men and women. It is now considered to be the most common curable sexually transmitted disease (STD) agent, with an estimated 3.7 million infected individuals in the United States.(1-4) Although up to 70% of infected individuals are asymptomatic, infections may be associated with vaginitis, urethritis, and cervicitis in women, and urethritis and prostatitis in men.(3) Patients that are infected with Trichomonas vaginalis have an increased risk of acquiring other sexually transmitted infections such as HIV, while infections in pregnant women are associated with premature labor, low-birth-weight offspring, premature rupture of membranes, and post-hysterectomy/post-abortion infection.(3)
Symptoms of Trichomonas vaginalis overlap considerably with other sexually transmitted infections, and therefore, laboratory diagnosis is required for definitive diagnosis. The most commonly used method for detection is microscopic examination of a wet-mount preparation of vaginal secretions. However, this method has only 35% to 80% sensitivity compared with culture.(5) Culture also suffers from relatively low sensitivity (38%-82%) when compared to molecular methods.(5) Culture is technically challenging and takes 5 to 7 days to complete. Molecular methods, such as the APTIMA Trichomonas vaginalis Assay, offer high sensitivity and specificity for detection of trichomoniasis. The APTIMA test utilizes target capture, transcription-mediated amplification (TMA), and hybridization protection assay (HPA) technologies for detection of Trichomonas vaginalis ribosomal RNA (rRNA).
This assay is not FDA approved for specimens collected from male patients. However, the performance characteristics of this test have been established by Mayo Medical Laboratories in accordance with CLIA-guidelines.
Reliable results are dependent on adequate specimen collection. Because the transport system used for this assay does not permit microscopic assessment of specimen adequacy, training of clinicians in proper specimen collection techniques is necessary.
Therapeutic failure or success cannot be determined with the APTIMA Trichomonas vaginalis Assay since nucleic acid may persist following appropriate antimicrobial therapy.
Results from the APTIMA Trichomonas vaginalis Assay should be interpreted in conjunction with other clinical data and symptoms.
A negative result does not preclude a possible infection because results are dependent on adequate specimen collection. Test results may be affected by improper specimen collection, pre-analytical errors, technical errors, or target levels below the assay limit of detection. Furthermore, a negative result does not preclude a possible infection because the presence of Trichomonas tenax or Pentatrichomonas hominis in a specimen may affect the ability to detect Trichomonas vaginalis rRNA.
Assay performance of the APTIMA Trichomonas vaginalis Assay has not been evaluated in the presence of Dientamoeba fragilis.
1. Weinstock H, Berman S, Cates W Jr: Sexually transmitted diseases among American youth: incidence and prevalence estimates, 2000. Perspect Sex Reprod Health 2004;36(1):6-10
2. Soper D: Trichomoniasis: under control or undercontrolled? Am J Obstet Gynecol 2004;190(1):281-290
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Trichomoniasis-CDC Fact Sheet. Available from URL: http://www.cdc.gov/std/trichomonas/stdfact-trichomoniasis.htm Accessed August 2012
4. Schwebke JR, Burgess D: Trichomoniasis. Clin Microbiol Rev 2004;17(4):794-803
5. Wendel KA, Erbelding EJ, Gaydos CA, Rompalo AM: Trichomonas vaginalis polymerase chain reaction compared with standard diagnostic and therapeutic protocols for detection and treatment of vaginal trichomoniasis. Clin Infect Dis 2002;35(5):576-580