Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) remain a reality in even the most developed society, and all sexually active people are at risk of contracting them.
As most of the STDs exist in the body without any symptoms manifesting, many go undetected, and this poses a threat to an individual’s health. Early STD testing ensures the proper management of a society’s sexual health.
NAAT Testing Takes Off
With the latest technological advancements in the DNA testing technology, it is now possible to detect STD infections earlier and with more accuracy. Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests (NAATs) are the latest technological development to detect the specific components of Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) being applied to this arena.
NAAT tests directly identify the genetic material of a virus or an infecting organism, meaning they are extremely accurate markers for disease. Initially, the test was only used to detect Chlamydia and Gonorrhea. Today, NAAT testing is being used to detect many more STIs such as HPV (human papillomavirus), HIV, herpes simplex virus, ureaplasma, trichomoniasis, chancroid, mycoplasma, and donovanosis.
With the advent of NAAT technologies, it is now easy to access more sensitive and specific results. The NAAT testing process basically identifies the DNA sequences found specifically in the organism being tested. This makes it a highly specific test. The test also amplifies low amounts of viral DNA/RNA in such a way that they are easily detected, making the testing technology highly sensitive unlike the older techniques (use of microscopes and culture).
Since the NAAT tests are highly sensitive to small amounts of viral DNA, they are very useful in early detection of HIV infection as well as other STI-causing pathogens. This is why they are also used for screening blood supply.
Reducing STD Testing Costs
Replacing the standard laboratory tests for STIs has proven cost-effective as most patients benefit from accurate diagnosis and reduced frequency of testing. The fact that patients receive their results the same day has also proven advantageous.
Since this test is more cost-effective, more lab testing service companies have ditched the old STI testing techniques. NAAT tests do not require a lot of laboratory staff and expensive equipment. Additionally, collecting samples does not require medical expertise, which makes it easy to test a large number of men and women. This reduces the maintenance and running costs of a the medical facility involved.
DNA Testing Goes Global
Lower costs also means that advanced STD tests can now be made available throughout the developing world, which still suffers mightily from older and more modern STIs.
NAAT tests have been approved by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and this method of testing is spreading all over the world. Most countries have now embraced the technology.
In the US, NAAT-based screening programs have been implemented in most clinics especially among military, urban teenagers, gay-men, and other high-risk groups.
The test has allowed for expansion in the testing for STIs as such screening can easily be done on urine samples, instead of use of cervicovaginal or urethral swab. At-home test kits are beginning to use NAAT, as well.
With the wide-spread availability of DNA testing for STIs, more and more people will benefit from its accuracy and effectiveness. More companies providing laboratory services will be able to provide screening at lower costs as the process is cost-effective. The NAAT test’s high sensitivity and accuracy will also improve the quality life of individuals as it enables more early detections.