Objective: To describe trends in STD diagnostic test volume and test technology in California from 1996 to 2003.
Study: A self-administered survey was mailed annually to licensed clinical laboratories in California that performed STD testing. Data were collected on volume and diagnostic test type for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, chancroid, HIV, hepatitis B, herpes simplex virus (HSV), and human papilloma virus (HPV). Data were analyzed for trends over time.
Results: Response rates ranged from 77% to 99% per survey year. The total number of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis tests increased from 8.1 to 9.3 million annually. The proportion of chlamydia and gonorrhea tests performed using nucleic acid amplification testing increased from 5% to 66% and from 1% to 59%, respectively. Gonorrhea culture testing decreased from 42% to 10% of all gonorrhea tests. HIV test volume increased from 2.4 to 3.1 million tests. Newer technology tests for HSV and HPV were less common but increased in use. Nonpublic health laboratories conducted over 90% of all STD testing.
Conclusions: Analyzing trends in diagnostic technologies enhances our understanding of the epidemiology of STDs and monitoring laboratory capacity and practices facilitates implementation of STD control activities.