Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Safeguarding sexual wellness

Sex is an important part of the human experience and has been linked to an improved quality of life.1

There are more than 1 million sexually transmitted infections (STIs) acquired every day worldwide,2 and diagnostic testing is often the first line of defense. The impact of quality diagnostics and innovative testing approaches has transformed previously life-altering infections into manageable conditions.3


concerned looking woman
Taking a lesson from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

For decades, HIV/AIDS routinely ranked in the top 10 global causes of death.4 Today, testing and treatment have greatly reduced the impact and prevalence of the disease in developed countries. However, there has been a noticeable uptake in infection rates among younger populations. This is believed to stem in part from lack of knowledge and a lack of compliance when relying on medication used to prevent the spread of disease, such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

In low- and middle-income countries, HIV/AIDS remains a persistent public health threat which is being addressed with increased access to effective HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care. No matter where people live, an early HIV diagnosis is key to living a long and healthy life.

Other notable STIs and their socioeconomic impact


In 2016, the WHO estimated 376 million new infections with 1 of 4 STIs: chlamydia (127 million), gonorrhea (87 million), syphilis (6.3 million) and trichomoniasis (156 million).2


High-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is linked to 99% of all cervical cancer cases—the fourth most common cancer in women.6


Genital herpes (herpes simplex virus type 2 [HSV-2]) is estimated to affect 491.5 million people, approximately 13% of the world’s population.7

Global preventative approaches to address the immediate challenges of STI risks include education and access to reliable screening and diagnostic tests, as more than 90% of the global burden of STIs occur in low- to middle-income countries.8 Conversely, higher income countries face another troubling trend in the form of drug-resistant infections.

Regardless of geography or financial standing, laboratories play a vital role in supporting people’s physical (and mental) wellbeing. Advances in diagnostic testing have opened new possibilities across a wide range of infections, and understanding the available options is vital to meeting the needs of local communities. 

male and female healthcare
Meeting demand with diagnostic innovation

For some infections, reliably identifying the cause poses a notable challenge. High-throughput systems and fully automated workflows are helping to accelerate time-to-diagnosis, but this is just part of the equation. 

Optimizing nucleic acid amplification testing (NAAT) techniques, like polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, have allowed test developers to push the boundaries of traditional diagnostics. Increasingly sophisticated assays with better sensitivity, specificity, and efficiency of scale have the potential to bring an entire paradigm shift in disease management, as seen in HPV screening for cervical cancer prevention.

Simultaneous testing for multiple targets is one approach to enhance the reliability of testing. Compensating for the possibility of genotype variations, mutations and mismatches has increased the probability of detection for infections like HIV, syphilis, hepatitis C virus (HCV), and chlamydia, and can help to preemptively identify cases of co-infection. Similarly, advances in testing strategies—like running multiple tests on a single patient sample in the same run—helps to decrease the burden on laboratory staff. By improving the use of precious personnel resources, laboratories can flexibly meet surges in demand while maximising the value they provide across the health system.

For markets where populations are spread throughout sprawling remote areas, new ways of collecting samples and communicating results have revolutionized disease management—from initial diagnosis, to monitoring viral load, and promoting patient follow-up.

An established legacy of well-designed, high-quality assays

Tests developed according to rigorous performance standards have the potential to address key customer needs while maximising clinical utility.

  • Setting a new standard in cervical cancer screening
  • Ensuring HIV diagnostic tools are updated as the virus mutates
  • Expanding assay menus across platforms to support high volume screening programs                 
Looking ahead, new and familiar challenges are reinforcing the importance of holistic laboratory solutions

Directly targeting antimicrobial resistance

An increasing number of STIs have developed drugresistant strains that are complicating patient management. Roche is countering this with a collection of resistance-guided therapy tests that may help bring these infections back under control.


Ensuring access for all to high quality diagnostics

The Global Access Program, in partnership with other global healthcare leaders, is working to ensure people everywhere have access to innovative testing solutions for the world’s most burdensome diseases—HIV, HCVHPV, HBV, and Tuberculosis.


Bringing healthcare thinking to technology

Roche’s purpose-built digital solutions can uncover actionable insights that inform meaningful clinical decisions for patients facing the most serious challenges.

Increased education and awareness, together with the right diagnostic tools, can help us move closer to a world of improved sexual health and wellness. Working together, we can mitigate the impact of sexually transmitted infections to protect global populations of today and future generations tomorrow. 

Continue reading

Learn more about our STI solutions

HIV-1/2 screening

Immunoassays for the qualitative determination of HIV p24 antigen and antibodies to HIV.

HIV Duo                    HIV Combi

High-throughput HIV-1/2 testing

The first automated nucleic acid test to enable differentiation between HIV-1 and HIV-2 infections, applying the clinically proven dual target design for HIV-1.

Learn more

cobas® HIV-1 test

Roche’s next-generation, dual-target quantitative HIV-1 assay targets two unique regions of the HIV-1 genome to improve genotype inclusivity, detect HIV-1 variants and potentially avoid under quantification.

Human T-lymphotropic viruses (HTLV) types I and II test

Immunoassay for the qualitative determination of total antibodies to human T-lymphotropic virus I/II.

Learn more

Syphilis antibody test

Immunoassay for the qualitative determination of total antibodies against Treponema pallidum.

HSV-2 IgG-antibody test

Type-specific serologic test for the detection of the recombinant HSV-2 glycoprotein G (gG2). 

Learn more

HSV-1 IgG-antibody test

Type-specific serologic test for the detection of IgG, based on the use of recombinant HSV-1 glycoprotein G (gG1).

Learn more

HSV-1 and HSV-2 dual-target test

Directly detect and differentiate DNA of Herpes simplex virus 1 and 2 (HSV-1 and HSV-2).

Learn more

Human papillomavirus DNA testing

Specifically identify HPV16 and HPV18 while concurrently detecting the other high-risk types.

Learn more

High-volume CT/NG testing

Automated, qualitative in vitro nucleic diagnostic test for the direct detection of Chlamydia trachomatis (CT) and/or Neisseria gonorrhoeae (NG).

Learn more

Medium-volume CT/NG testing

Multiplex assay for the qualitative detection of Chlamydia trachomatis (CT) and/or Neisseria gonorrhoeae (NG) with flexible order capability.

Learn more

Neisseria gonorrhea resistance test

Simultaneously detect the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae (GC) and the gyrA S91 (wild type) or gyrA S91F (mutant) markers that are associated with susceptibility or resistance to the fluoroquinolone antibiotic, ciprofloxacin.

Dual-target TV/MG test

Easy and convenient dual-taget test for Trichomonas vaginalis (TV) and/or Mycoplasma genitalium (MG) from a single patient sample. 

Learn more

Mycoplasma genitalium resistance test

Simultaneously detect Mycoplasma genitalium and 5 mutations at positions 2058 and 2059 in the 23S rRNA gene (E. coli numbering) that are associated with resistance to azithromycin (macrolide-based antibiotic).

iThemba Life

Empowering patients to play a more active role in their health, with easy access to result information quickly, no matter their location.


  1. Flynn KE, Lin L, Bruner DW, et al. Sexual Satisfaction and the Importance of Sexual Health to Quality of Life Throughout the Life Course of U.S. Adults. J Sex Med. 2016;13(11):1642-1650. doi:10.1016/j.jsxm.2016.08.011
  2. World Health Organization. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Accessed September 8, 2020.
  3. World Health Organization. HIV: from a devastating epidemic to a manageable chronic disease. Accessed September 8, 2020.
  4.  World Health Organization. The top 10 causes of death. Accessed September 8, 2020.
  5. Bekker LG, Hosek S. HIV and adolescents: focus on young key populations. J Int AIDS Soc. 2015;18(2Suppl 1):20076. Published 2015 Feb 26. doi:10.7448/IAS.18.2.20076
  6. World Health Organization. Cervical cancer. Accessed September 8, 2020.
  7. World Health Organization. Massive proportion of world’s population are living with herpes infection. Accessed September 8, 2020.
  8. World Health Organization. Point-Of-Care Diagnostic Tests (POCTs) for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). Accessed September 8, 2020.
  9. Wright TC Jr, Stoler MH, Sharma A, et al. Evaluation of HPV-16 and HPV-18 genotyping for the triage of women with high-risk HPV+ cytology-negative results. Am J Clin Pathol. 2011;136(4):578-586. doi:10.1309/AJCPTUS5EXAS6DKZ