Survey of Sexually Transmitted Disease Laboratory Methods in US Army Laboratories

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Sexually transmitted diseases, in particular Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae, are ranked as the top 2 most commonly notified disease in the US Army. Although surveillance programs are in place to capture event data, no routine STD surveillance program captures laboratory test information.


To evaluate laboratory testing practices/methodologies in US Army laboratories in 2007, a questionnaire was distributed to all 38 US Army laboratories. The results of the survey were compared across Army installations to US civilian public health laboratories.


Of 38 survey recipients, 35 (92.1%) completed the survey. Overall, 78.6% of C. trachomatis and 77.2% of N. gonorrhoeae specimens were tested by nucleic acid amplification tests. In addition, 48.6% used culture as a method of N. gonorrhoeae testing. Testing for genital herpes, trichomonas, bacterial vaginosis, syphilis, human papillomavirus, and/or premalignant/malignant cervical cells was performed by 33 of the 35 laboratories.


A high proportion of US Army laboratories are using NAAT technology for C. trachomatis and N. gonorrhoeae testing. A more comprehensive questionnaire may be needed to accurately describe the type and volume of other STD tests. Despite the difference in survey data acquisition between the US civilian public health laboratory survey and the US Army laboratory survey, broad comparisons such as test types were able to be made. Future surveys should be extended to other US military services and should include both civilian and military laboratories.

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