Evaluation of Urine-Based Screening Strategies to Detect Chlamydia trachomatis Among Sexually Active Asymptomatic Young Males

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Abstract

Objective

To evaluate the performances of diagnostic screening tests alone or in combination to detect asymptomatic chlamydial urethral infection in young males.

Design

Comparisons of the performance profiles of the following chlamydia screening strategies were done: urethral culture; identification of polymorphonucleocytes (PMNs) on spun first-void urine (FVU); urinary leukocyte esterase test (LET) on unspun FVU; chlamydial enzyme immunoassay (EIA) applied to FVU sediment; combining LET on unspun FVU followed by EIA with or without direct fluorescent antibody (DFA) confirmation on FVU sediment; and combining PMNs on spun FVU followed by EIA with or without DFA confirmation.

Setting

General clinics at a youth detention center, university-based teen clinic, college health service, and a military screening clinic.

Patients

A total of 618 males aged 12 to 35 years (mean, 17 years) were recruited as a convenience sample; site participation rates ranged from 50% to 80%. Eligible subjects were sexually active, denied symptoms of urethritis, and had taken no antibiotics in the prior 2 weeks.

Main Outcome Measures

Sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values of each test strategy's ability to detect Chlamydia trachomatis infection, and cost to confirm each positive case.

Results

With a 7% prevalence of chlamydial infection, tissue culture had a sensitivity of only 61%. However, two strategies yielded significantly better performance profiles compared with the others: EIA confirmed by DFA test with a sensitivity of 84%, a specificity of 100%, and a cost to identify each positive case of $434; and PMNs followed by EIA confirmed by DFA test with a sensitivity of 78%, a specificity of 100%, and a cost to identify each positive case of $199. The LET followed by EIA-DFA had a similar performance profile to the PMN test strategies.

Conclusions

A combination of a nonspecific screening of FVU for PMNs or LET followed by specific testing with EIA with DFA confirmation has superior clinical and cost-effective performance for detecting asymptomatic C trachomatis urethritis in young males compared with other strategies. However, an evaluation of the medical, fiscal, and psychological benefits and risks associated with a specific screening strategy for sexually transmitted diseases must be made before adopting a specific strategy for a particular population.

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