Contact: Peter Patterson
(202) 835-8718
800-892-1400 ext. 1718
Email: ppatterson@aacc.org

Monday, June 6, 2011
AACC Announces Webinar on Syphilis Testing in the Clinical Lab

Washington, DC – June 6, 2011       The American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) announces a webinar Syphilis Testing in the Clinical Lab: New Recommendations for ‘Reverse’ Algorithm to be held on September 14, 2011 at 2:00pm Eastern. The webinar will last 60 minutes.

Syphilis is a sexually-transmitted infectious disease spread by exposure to the Treponema pallidum bacterium through broken skin or mucous membranes. Serological testing of Treponema pallidum starts with a non-treponemal assay such as the VDRL (venereal disease research laboratory) or RPR (rapid plasma reagin) tests to screen patients, with reactive samples followed up by a Treponema-specific method. However, both tests are relatively labor intensive and in recent years many labs have switched to screening low-prevalence populations with treponemal tests that can be automated in Enzyme Immunoassays (EIA) or similar formats. This ‘reverse’ algorithm approach reduces labor costs, and in areas with low disease prevalence, only a relatively few cases would require confirmation using a labor intensive non-treponemal test. One caveat to the ‘reverse’ algorithm has always been that the immunoassay screen produces an unacceptable number of false-positive results. In fact, the biggest question in terms of syphilis serology is how to interpret a sample that comes back with a positive result by treponemal assay, but is negative on a non-treponemal method. For this reason and others, a recent editorial note in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report reiterated CDC’s long-standing recommendation that nontreponemal tests be used first before a treponemal test in screening for syphilis. However, acknowledging that many labs have adopted an EIA-first screening process, the CDC also included recommendations for applying the ‘reverse’ algorithm.

AACC’s expert panel, Jennifer Shieh, MS, CLS, Test Development Scientist at Kaiser Permanente TPMG Regional Laboratory (Berkeley, CA), and Gail Bolan, MD, Director of the Division of STD Prevention at CDC (Atlanta, GA) will discuss the diagnosis of syphilis, how the ‘reverse’ algorithm works in the lab, interpretation of results, as well identifying recommended populations for screening, the stages of the disease, and how CDC’s new recommendations help patient management.

Widespread in the US, syphilis mainly affects sexually active adults ages 20 to 29.  Diagnosis and treatment are vital as the disease in its tertiary, and final, stage spreads to the brain, nervous system, heart, skin, and bones. AACC invites interested journalists to participate in this webinar. For a complimentary registration, complete and submit a Press Registration Form. For more information about the webinar or AACC, contact Peter Patterson by email or on either of the above phone numbers. The webinar is supported by DiaSorin.

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AACC is a leading professional society dedicated to improving healthcare through laboratory medicine. Its over 9,000 members are clinical laboratory professionals, physicians, research scientists, and others involved in developing tests and directing laboratory operations. AACC brings this community together with programs that advance knowledge, expertise, and innovation.