Studies of immunochromatographic strip testing for syphilis, using finger-stick blood or serum samples collected at antenatal or sexually transmitted infection clinics were eligible for inclusion. Included studies had to apply a treponemal reference standard. Eligible studies were required to report the total number of patients, and positive and negative tests results, and tests had to meet the ASSURED (affordable, sensitive, specific and user friendly) criteria. Studies of archived samples were excluded.
Although all included studies used at least a treponemal test as the reference standard, the authors reported that five studies used a combination of treponemal and non-treponemal tests. TMost included studies were conducted in in urban health centres in low-income or middle-income countries. Approximately half of the studies were based in antenatal clinical and half in sexually transmitted infection clinics. Three studies (20%) included patients infected with HIV. Eight different commercial tests for syphilis were used by included studies.
Studies were independently assessed for inclusion by two reviewers and disagreements were resolved by consultation with a third reviewer. Spanish studies were assessed by a research assistant proficient in Spanish and checked by one of the reviewers.