Assessment of the impact of rapid syphilis tests on syphilis screening and treatment of pregnant women in Zambia

Rachael E. Bonawitz, Julie Duncan, Emily Hammond, Leoda Hamomba, Jane Nambule, Kennedy Sambambi, Victor Musonda, Alana Calise, Anna Knapp, Jonas Mwale, James McCauley, Donald Thea, Julie Herlihy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Abstract Objective To evaluate the impact of rapid syphilis tests (RSTs) on syphilis testing and treatment in pregnant women in Kalomo District, Zambia. Methods In March 2012, health workers at all 35 health facilities in Kalomo Distract were trained in RST use and penicillin treatment. In March 2013, data were retrospectively abstracted from 18 randomly selected health facilities and stratified into three time intervals: baseline (6 months prior to RST introduction), midline (0-6 months after RST introduction), and endline (7-12 months after RST introduction). Results Data collected on 4154 pregnant women showed a syphilis-reactive seroprevalence of 2.7%. The proportion of women screened improved from baseline (140/1365, 10.6%) to midline (976/1446, 67.5%), finally decreasing at endline (752/1337, 56.3%) (P < 0.001). There was no significant difference in the proportion of syphilis-seroreactive pregnant women who received 1 dose of penicillin before (1/2, 50%) or after (5/48, 10.4%; P = 0.199) RST introduction with low treatment rates throughout. Conclusion With RST scale-up in Zambia and other resource-limited settings, same-day test and treatment with penicillin should be prioritized to achieve the goal of eliminating congenital syphilis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8310
Pages (from-to)S58-S62
JournalInternational Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics
Issue numberS1
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Antenatal care
  • Congenital syphilis
  • Penicillin
  • Rapid syphilis tests

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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