Optimizing Screening for Sexually Transmitted Infections in Men Using Self-Collected Swabs: A Systematic Review

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Abstract

Background

Sexually transmitted infection (STI) rates are increasing in the United States while funding for prevention and treatment programs has declined. Sample self-collection for STI testing in men may provide an acceptable, easy, rapid, and potentially cost-effective method for increasing diagnosis and treatment of STIs.

Methods

We conducted a systematic review of articles assessing self-collection of anal, oral, or genital swab samples among adult men for detection of STIs and/or human papillomavirus–related dysplasia. We searched for English-language articles in which men 18 years or older were recruited to participate.

Results

Our literature search resulted in 1053 citations, with 20 meeting inclusion criteria. Self-collection methods were highly sensitive and comparable with clinician collection for detection of multiple STI pathogens. However, self-collected samples were less likely to be of adequate quality for anorectal cytology and less sensitive for detection of anal intraepithelial neoplasia than clinician-collected samples. Self-collection was highly acceptable. Overall, studies were small and heterogeneous and used designs providing lower levels of evidence.

Conclusions

Self-collection methods are a viable option for collecting samples for STI testing in adult men based on their high feasibility, acceptability, and validity. Implementation of self-collection procedures in STI testing venues should be performed to expand opportunities for STI detection and treatment.

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