On June 27, 2006, the NIH conducted a workshop to review published data and current field practices supporting the use of self-obtained vaginal swabs (SOVs) as specimens for diagnosis of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The workshop also explored the design of studies that could support FDA clearance of SOVs for STI testing, particularly for specimens collected in nonclinical settings including patients' homes. This report summarizes the workshop findings and recommendations. Participants concluded that self-obtained vaginal swabs are well accepted by women of all ages and that SOVs perform as well as or better than other specimen types for Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae detection using transcription-mediated amplification. In addition, workshop participants recommended the validation of SOV testing by public health practitioners and manufacturers of STI diagnostic tests to expedite incorporation of SOVs as a diagnostic option in clinical and nonclinical settings for Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae testing. Similarly, SOVs should be explored for use in the diagnosis of other sexually transmitted pathogens.
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