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A study has found that a new test for trichomonas vaginalis may be the most effective way to diagnose this common sexually transmitted infection, which up to 70% of women is expected to contract.
Researchers have discovered - for the first time - that trichomonas vaginalis is most prevalent in women aged between 36 and 45. It's this age group that isn't routinely given STI tests, which is perhaps why the infection has flourished.
Across the globe, trichomonas vaginalis is as common as gonorrhoea and chlamydia combined, explains lead author of the study Kimberley Chapin, but it's not a reportable disease in many countries - like America, for example.
Researchers found that the standardised test in the States was nowhere near as effective as another test which uses amplification to test for trichomonas vaginalis, which caught the infection in over a third more cases. When analysing samples provided for STI tests, researchers found that even in areas with low rates of infections, trichomonas vaginalis prevalence remains high.
Their results, Ms Chapin says, support "the need for routine testing for trichomonas vaginalis" and provide a "different reason for why women may be seeing their physicians with certain gynaecological complaints".
In fact, one of the many reasons trichomonas vaginalis often goes undiagnosed is that the symptoms are very similar to other STIs. Often women with symptoms, which include heavy discharge, soreness and inflammation of the vagina, are diagnosed with chlamydia or gonorrhoea.
Men can contract TV too, and can pass it on to their future sexual partners. The only way to avoid infecting others with an undetected case of trichomonas vaginalis, or any other STI, is to use barrier contraceptives like a condom whenever you have sexual contact.