Genital self-sampling compared with cervicovaginal lavage for the diagnosis of female genital schistosomiasis in Zambian women: The BILHIV study.

14 July 2020
Amy S. Sturt , Emily L. Webb, Comfort R. Phiri, Tobias Mweene, Namakau Chola, Govert J. van Dam, Paul L. A. M. Corstjens, Els Wessels, J. Russell Stothard, Richard Hayes, Helen Ayles, Isaiah Hansingo, Lisette van Lieshout, Amaya L. Bustinduy

Female Genital schistosomiasis (FGS) is a neglected and disabling disease that results when eggs from the waterborne parasite Schistosoma haematobium are trapped in the human reproductive tract. Current female genital schistosomiasis (FGS) diagnostic strategies are limited because they require expertise and equipment that may not be readily available in low income settings. Improved and accessible diagnostics are urgently needed to scale-up FGS surveillance. This is especially important as FGS has been associated with HIV-1 infection. The BILHIV (bilharzia and HIV) study assessed the performance of home-based self-collection methods (cervical and vaginal swabs) compared with a clinic-based cervicovaginal lavage (CVL) performed by a medical professional. Both methods used real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to detect Schistosoma DNA. We found that, in a field setting, self-collected genital and cervical swabs increased the overall number of PCR-based FGS diagnoses, compared with clinically collected CVL. We report the sensitivity of self-collected swabs for the diagnosis of FGS, compared with CVL. We found that the sensitivity of self-collected genital swabs was high in a subset of women with active schistosome infection. We suggest that home-based self-sampling may represent a scalable community-based sampling platform for FGS community-based diagnosis in endemic resource limited settings.

Female Genital Schistosomiasis Research