Syphilis test availability and uptake at medical facilities in southern China
Li-Gang Yang, Joseph D Tucker, Cheng Wang, Song-Ying Shen, Xiang-Sheng Chen, Bin Yang & Rosanna Peeling
To examine syphilis testing capacity, screening coverage rates and types of syphilis tests used in medical facilities in southern China.
Eleven of the 14 municipalities in Guangdong province participated. Data on syphilis testing capacity, screening coverage and types of syphilis tests used were collected from all types of public medical facilities offering prenatal care (n = 109). A total of 494 680 women who delivered during 2004–2008 were studied.
In 2008, 54 196 pregnant women (43.1%) were not screened for syphilis. Among such women, 32 863 (60.6%) attended clinics without any syphilis testing capacity and 21 333 (39.4%) attended clinics that performed testing but were not screened. The likelihood of not having syphilis test capacity was much higher for hygiene stations (odds ratio, OR: 10; 95% confidence interval, CI: 4–25), services at the township level (OR: 33; 95% CI: 10–100) and services with ≤ 1000 deliveries per year (OR: 1.002; 95% CI: 1.001–1.003). These same service characteristics correlated with lower screening coverage rates (P < 0.01). Only one antenatal clinic had the capacity to conduct both treponemal and non-treponemal tests for diagnosing syphilis.
Syphilis screening is available in very few of the basic medical facilities offering prenatal care where most neonates in southern China are delivered. In light of this and of the increasing incidence of syphilis in the area, expanding point-of-care rapid syphilis testing is a priority.