STI Synopsis


The world’s most common curable STI, Trichomoniasis is a frequent cause of vaginal discharge, but often goes undiagnosed and untreated.

Trichomoniasis is caused by a parasite, Trichomonas vaginalis (TV) and can be treated with antibiotics. Trichomoniasis infections are often asymptomatic and most people can not tell they have the infection. Trichomoniasis can increase the chance of getting or spreading other STIs and can lead to premature or low-birth weight deliveries.


Women are most often diagnosed by typical microscope culture of vaginal secretions, which is only 50 percent sensitive as compared to nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT), which can detect the genetic material (DNA or RNA) of the parasite. Men are typically diagnosed using microscope cultures from urethral or prostatic secretions.

The amount of laboratory-based molecular tests to detect TV, is growing, and there are several commercialized point of care (POC) and near-POC platforms that are easier to implement in community and clinical settings. Additionally, there are combination assays that include trichomoniasis that are able to detect different infections at one time.

An estimated 156 million trichomoniasis infections occur each year.

Trichomoniasis infection can increase risk for other STIs and can lead to premature or low-birth weight deliveries.

Although trichomoniasis can be treated using oral antibiotics, it often causes minor or no symptoms and diagnostic tests are not widely available, so most people do not realize they are infected and need treatment.

Source: STI fact sheet [supplemented with CDC information on health consequences.]

Learn More:

Smith, J., & Garber, G. E. (2014). Current status and prospects for development of a vaccine against Trichomonas vaginalis infections. Vaccine, 32(14), 1588–1594. 

Van Gerwen, O. T., & Muzny, C. A. (2019). Recent advances in the epidemiology, diagnosis, and management of Trichomonas vaginalis infection. F1000Research, 8, F1000 Faculty Rev-1666.