Sexual health is an important part of our overall health. It can be defined as the absence of disease and infections but also covers well-being, the ability to control fertility and to have children, and the ability to enjoy fulfilling relationships.
The first thought many people have when “sexual health” is mentioned is sexually transmitted infections (STIs). STI’s are more common than most people think with WHO reporting an estimated 374 million new infections each year with 1 of 4 STIs: chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and trichomoniasis. The majority of STIs are easily treated with antibiotics or antiviral drugs. However, if left untreated some of them can have a profound impact on a woman’s sexual and reproductive health. The impact of an untreated STI can vary from pelvic pain to complete infertility.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most commonly transmitted STI’s. HPV is a group of viruses, of which more than 100 types have been described. At least 14 HPV types classified as ‘high risk’ can cause cervical cancer in women. HPV 16 and HPV 18 are the most common “high-risk” types, causing about 70 % of all cases of cervical cancer.
A lot of STIs cause no symptoms so you may not realise that you have a problem for several days, weeks, months or more. It is for this reason that it is important to incorporate HPV and STI screening into your overall healthcare routine.
In developed countries, the HPV vaccine in conjunction with screening programs has helped significantly reduce the burden caused by cervical cancer. In countries like Ireland, where screening programmes are in place a barrier for many women has been the requirement to undergo a speculum examination. We know that there are some groups that are less likely to screen regularly or at all, including some culturally and linguistically diverse communities, people who identify as LGBTIQ+, people with disabilities, people who have experienced sexual violence, and people who have had previous negative experiences with Pap smears. Cultural beliefs, shame, anxiety, discomfort and pain all have a cumulative effect in reducing the number of women participating in HPV/STI screening. Copan’s Self Vaginal FLOQSwabs® can help tear down many of these barriers.
A self-collection option allows participants to take their own vaginal sample for HPV/STI testing, removing a significant barrier to participation in screening. Copan’s Self Vaginal FLOQSwabs® is a safe, comfortable, and easy-to-use device supporting women taking part in HPV and STI screening campaigns.
Benefits of Self Vaginal FLOQSwabs®
- Increased participation in HPV/STI screening campaigns.
- Less invasive and painless option for HPV screening compared to Pap smear.
- Home sample collection: eliminates the need to take time off work to travel to a GP for sample collection.
- Self-collection enables the scale of STI/HPV screening programs to be increased.
- Comparable performance with professionally collected samples.
- Self-vaginal FLOQSwabs® have been validated on molecular platforms including GeneXpert® and Roche Cobas® 4800.
- Compatible with Copan’s UniVerse®, automated sample preparation.
Recent studies have demonstrated that self-collected swabs are no less sensitive for the detection of HPV than practitioner-collected cervical specimens. The encouraging results on the accuracy of high-risk HPV self-sampling have prompted the Netherlands and Australia to transition their national programs from cytology to HPV as the primary screening test and both countries include a pathway for self-collection. Copan’s flocked swab is also being used in the national cervical screening program in Malaysia after successful pilot implementation studies.
It is clear that STI/HPV self-sampling kits provide benefits for both the user and screening programs and can be utilised as an invaluable tool for the inclusion of under-screened groups in screening campaigns. Additionally, self-collection kits can be used as an alternative for women during the covid-19 pandemic, where many screening services have seen a significant reduction in the numbers attending their clinics.
Get in touch with our product specialist below for more information on Self-vaginal FLOQSwabs® or if you would like information on additional products included in Copan’s self-collection range.
 Sexually transmitted infections (STIs). (2021). Retrieved 8 December 2021, from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/sexually-transmitted-infections-(stis)
 Factsheet about human papillomavirus. (2021). Retrieved 8 December 2021, from https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/human-papillomavirus/factsheet
 Inturrisi, F., Aitken, C., Melchers, W., van den Brule, A., Molijn, A., & Hinrichs, J. et al. (2021). Clinical performance of high-risk HPV testing on self-samples versus clinician samples in routine primary HPV screening in the Netherlands: An observational study. The Lancet Regional Health – Europe, 11, 100235. doi: 10.1016/j.lanepe.2021.100235
 Hawkes, D., Keung, M., Huang, Y., McDermott, T., Romano, J., Saville, M., & Brotherton, J. (2020). Self-Collection for Cervical Screening Programs: From Research to Reality. Cancers, 12(4), 1053. doi: 10.3390/cancers12041053
If you would like to find out more about Copan Self-Collection – get in touch below