After a description of the problems of sexually transmitted infections among women in the developing world, and the obstacles to effective diagnosis, this article examines the potential impact of the introduction of better performing and more accessible diagnostics in two targeted situations. These are antenatal syphilis screening in sub-Saharan Africa and gonorrhoea, chlamydia and HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, China and south-east Asia. The mathematical models suggest that new diagnostic tests with reasonable (not necessarily perfect) sensitivity and specificity could result in significant health benefits, provided they require minimal or no infrastructure and provided there is sufficient access to treatment.
Nature (2006) 444 (Suppl. 1) pp. 59-72 [doi:10.1038/nature05447].