Lack of Awareness of Sexually Transmitted Diseases Challenges Growth of the Diagnostic Market

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Growth of diagnostic markets are directly dependent on an increasing awareness of the symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), which in turn spur the demand for routine screening facilities.

Educational initiatives have met with success in garnering public awareness and support for HIV prevention, but other infectious diseases have not received such wide publicity.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, "U.S. Infectious Diseases: Sexually Transmitted Disease Diagnostics Markets," reveals that revenues in this industry totaled $622.4 million in 2002 and are projected to reach $1,204.8 million by 2009.

"The limiting factor for the identification of STDs is that many diseases have few if any signs or symptoms," observes Frost & Sullivan research analyst Isaac Meek.

Medical authorities now recommend primary screening. In fact, the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the American Society of Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology (ASCCP) have advocated the incorporation of DNA testing for high-risk Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) types.

The growth and acceptance of these diagnostic products is further accelerated by the wide variety of tests possible on molecular diagnostic platforms. For example, the Hybrid Capture 2 testing system has the considerable advantage of allowing for screening of HPV, chlamydia and gonorrhea from the same sample.

Healthcare management organizations and insurance providers lack the incentive to provide reimbursement for more sensitive and specific assays when the economic efficacy of many molecular-based diagnostics is unclear.

Reimbursement becomes harder to obtain if the test is intended to replace or supplement a less expensive immunoassay or established microbiological technique.

Sales are also restrained by limited testing menus and the prohibitive cost of equipment that prevents healthcare organizations from finalizing on a specific testing platform.

"Government initiatives such as strategic prevention plans and voluntary counseling boost the level of community awareness, which positively affects diagnosis, testing and monitoring," says Meek.

Frost & Sullivan is a global leader in strategic growth consulting.

Source: Frost & Sullivan