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BACKGROUND: Rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) are effective tools to diagnose and inform the treatment of malaria in adults and children. The recent development of a highly sensitive rapid diagnostic test (HS-RDT) for Plasmodium falciparum has prompted questions over whether it could improve the diagnosis of malaria in pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes in malaria endemic areas. METHODS: This landscape review collates studies addressing the clinical performance of the HS-RDT. Thirteen studies were identified comparing the HS-RDT and conventional RDT (co-RDT) to molecular methods to detect malaria in pregnancy. Using data from five completed studies, the association of epidemiological and pregnancy-related factors on the sensitivity of HS-RDT, and comparisons with co-RDT were investigated. The studies were conducted in 4 countries over a range of transmission intensities in largely asymptomatic women. RESULTS: Sensitivity of both RDTs varied widely (HS-RDT range 19.6 to 85.7%, co-RDT range 22.8 to 82.8% compared to molecular testing) yet HS-RDT detected individuals with similar parasite densities across all the studies including different geographies and transmission areas [geometric mean parasitaemia around 100 parasites per µL (p/µL)]. HS-RDTs were capable of detecting low-density parasitaemias and in one study detected around 30% of infections with parasite densities of 0-2 p/µL compared to the co-RDT in the same study which detected around 15%. CONCLUSION: The HS-RDT has a slightly higher analytical sensitivity to detect malaria infections in pregnancy than co-RDT but this mostly translates to only fractional and not statistically significant improvement in clinical performance by gravidity, trimester, geography or transmission intensity. The analysis presented here highlights the need for larger and more studies to evaluate incremental improvements in RDTs. The HS-RDT could be used in any situation where co-RDT are currently used for P. falciparum diagnosis, if storage conditions can be adhered to.

Original publication





Malar J

Publication Date





HS-RDT, Highly sensitive rapid diagnostic test, Malaria, Pregnancy, RDT, Rapid diagnostic test, uRDT, Adult, Pregnancy, Child, Humans, Female, Plasmodium falciparum, Rapid Diagnostic Tests, Sensitivity and Specificity, Malaria, Malaria, Falciparum, Diagnostic Tests, Routine, Antigens, Protozoan