Rates of sexually transmissible infections (STIs) in remote Aboriginal communities are among the highest in the world. Bacterial STIs are important causes of ill health, can be personally distressing and are associated with stigma. These infections can have serious clinical consequences such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), infertility and systemic disease and place a substantial burden on health services. STIs can also increase an individual’s susceptibility to transmitting and acquiring HIV infection.
In order to interrupt disease transmission in populations at higher risk of chlamydia and gonorrhoea, it is essential to make a diagnosis and undertake treatment as early as possible in people who have infection. Without treatment, infection with chlamydia can persist for many months. Timely diagnosis also enables potentially infected sex partners to be identified through partner notification strategies, and treated.
Because of the rarity of symptoms and the inherent delays in the majority of cases that are asymptomatic and therefore depend on a laboratory finding to initiate treatment, currently available diagnostic strategies for chlamydia and gonorrhoea are not ideal in remote settings. A potential solution to this problem is the use of rapid point-of-care tests that can provide an immediate result in field settings, thereby allowing clinical services to offer treatment and begin the process of partner notification at the time when the specimen is taken.