Most sexually transmitted infection (STI) management efforts focus on the syndromic approach to diagnose and treat patients. However, most women with STIs have been shown to be entirely asymptomatic, or if symptoms exist, are often missed when either clinical or conventional bacteriologic diagnostic tools are employed.
We assessed the performance of a multiplex real time PCR assay to describe other potential pathogens that could be missed by conventional bacteriological techniques in 200 women attending a routine STI clinic in Kumasi, Ghana.
Although a total 78.00% of the women were asymptomatic, 77.1% of them tested positive for at least one bacterial STI pathogen. Mycoplasma genitalium was the most commonly detectable pathogen present in 67.5% of all women. Of those testing positive, 25.0% had single infections, while 38.0% and 19.5% had double and triple infections respectively. Altogether, 86.54% and 90.91% of the symptomatic and asymptomatic women respectively tested positive for at least one pathogen (p<0.05). There were no significant associations (p<0.05) between the clinical manifestations of the symptomatic women and the pathogens detected in their samples.
Our study confirmed the importance of complementing the syndromic approach to STI management with pathogen detection and most importantly recognise that STIs in women are asymptomatic and regular empirical testing even for both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients is critical for complete clinical treatment.
EOD (Ellis Owusu-Dabo Research working group, KCCR).