The Univeristy of Melbourne The Royal Melbourne Hopspital

A joint venture between The University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital


Near-to-patient-testing to inform targeted antibiotic use for sexually transmitted infections in a public sexual health clinic: the NEPTUNE cohort study


  • Vodstrcil, Lenka A.
  • Htaik, Kay
  • Plummer, Erica L.
  • De Petra, Vesna
  • Sen, Melodi G.
  • Williamson, Deborah A.
  • Ong, Jason J.
  • Wu, Jason
  • Owlad, Monica
  • Murray, Gerald
  • Chow, Eric P.F.
  • Fairley, Christopher K.
  • Bradshaw, Catriona S.


The Lancet Regional Health - Western Pacific, Volume 44, 2024-03-31

Article Link: Click here

Background Empiric treatment of sexually transmitted infections can cause unnecessary antibiotic use. We determined if near-to-patient-testing (NPT) for Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Chlamydia trachomatis and Mycoplasma genitalium (MG) improved antibiotic-use for a range of clinical presentations. Methods Clients attending with non-gonococcal urethritis (NGU), proctitis, as STI-contacts, or for an MG-test-of-cure (MG-TOC) between March and December 2021 were recruited. Participants received near-to-patient-testing (NPT-group) for the three STIs using the GeneXpert® System (Cepheid), and concurrent routine-testing by transcription-mediated-amplification (TMA; Aptima, Hologic). Antibiotic-use among NGU or proctitis cases in the NPT-group was compared to clinic-controls undergoing routine-testing only. The proportion in the NPT-group who notified partners <24 hrs of their STI-specific result was calculated. Findings Among 904 consults by 808 NPT-participants, ≥1 STI was detected in 63/252 (25.0%) with NGU, 22/51 (43.1%) with proctitis, and 167/527 (31.7%) STI-contacts. MG was detected among 35/157 (22.3%) MG-TOC consults. Among NGU and proctitis cases, fewer in the NPT-group received empiric treatment compared to clinic-controls (29.4% [95% CI: 24.3–34.9%] vs 83.8% [95% CI: 79.2–87.8%], p < 0.001), resulting in more NPT-group cases appropriately treated (STI-specific drug/no drug appropriately; 80.9% [95% CI: 76.0–85.1%] vs 33.0% [95% CI: 27.7–38.6%], p < 0.001) and fewer mistreated (incorrect drug/treated but pathogen-negative; 17.8% [13.7–22.6%] vs 61.4% [55.6–66.9%], p < 0.001). Of 167/264 in the NPT-group with an STI who responded regarding partner-notification, 95.2% notified all/some partners; 85.9% notified them <24 hrs of the STI-specific result. Interpretation Near-to-patient-testing significantly improved antibiotic use and a high proportion of individuals rapidly notified partners of STI-specific results, highlighting the broad benefits of timely diagnostic strategies for STIs in clinical decision making and partner notification. Funding ARC ITRP Hub-grant; NHMRC.