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Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Volume 13 (2005), Issue 3, Pages 145-150

Real-Time PCR Improves Detection of Trichomonas vaginalis Infection Compared With Culture Using Self-Collected Vaginal swabs

1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, USA
2Department of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Magee-Women's Research Institute, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
3Department of Behavior Science, Rollins School of Public Health, Atlanta, GA, USA
4Center for AIDS Research, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA
5Department of Pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, USA
6Clinical Laboratories, H180, Emory University Hospital, 1364 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA

Received 2 July 2004; Accepted 1 December 2004

Copyright © 2005 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Objective. To compare a real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay with broth culture for the detection of Trichomonas vaginalis using self-collected vaginal swabs.

Methods. Self-collected vaginal swabs were obtained from adolescent and young adult African-American women participating in HIV-1 prevention programs. T. vaginalis culture was performed using the InPouch TV System. Samples for the real-time PCR assay were collected using the BDProbeTec ET Culturette Direct Dry Swab system and tested in a laboratory-developed assay which targeted a repeated sequence of the genome. Discrepant samples that were culture negative and positive in the real-time PCR assay were tested in a confirmatory PCR which targeted a different region of the T. vaginalis genome, the18S ribosomal DNA gene.

Results. Of the 524 specimens tested by both culture and real-time PCR, 36 were culture positive and 54 were positive in the real-time PCR assay; 16 of the 18 discrepant specimens were also positive in the confirmatory PCR assay. Using a modified gold standard of positive by culture or positive in both PCR assays, the sensitivity of the real-time PCR assay was 100% and the specificity was 99.6%, whereas culture had a sensitivity of 69.2% and a specificity of 100%.

Conclusions. The real-time PCR assay was sensitive and specific for the detection of T. vaginalis DNA from self-collected vaginal swab specimens. The ability to use the BDProbeTec dry swab system for the real-time PCR testing allowed for the detection of Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and T. vaginalis from a single specimen.