Amid the ongoing sexually transmitted disease outbreak in California and beyond, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte has teamed with BD to provide STI testing to underserved populations.

By Chris Wolski

Planned Parenthood Mar Monte (PPMM) has taken giant step to help the women they serve by offering comprehensive pan-screening for the three most prevalent non-viral STIs. The installation of a BD COR PX/MX system at PPMM’s San Jose, Calif., headquarters this week will allow PPMM to test up to 1,000 samples in 24 hours.

Because the system can detect the three specific STIs—Chlamydia trachomatisNeisseria gonorrhoeae, and Trichomonas vaginalis—instances of false positives will be much fewer, according to a PPMM press release.

The fast turnaround time for the STI testing, also a function of the BD system being in-house, is a significant benefit for the women who seek care at PPMM, according to Laura Dalton, DO, MBA, PPMM’s chief medical operating officer. 

“Untreated pelvic inflammatory disease can lead to morbidity, infertility, or ectopic pregnancy,” Dalton says. “We’re helping to close the health inequity gap.”

She notes that treatment after a positive test is a win-win for both the patients and society as a whole.Trichomonas vaginalis for example makes women more susceptible to HIV

PPMM, which operates 34 health centers across 42 counties in California and Nevada, treats about 350,000 patients annually. Every woman who seeks care will be offered pan-screening for the three STIs. 

California has experienced a significant uptick in STIs since 2017, according to Dalton. COVID didn’t help, seeing many women postponing STI testing and treatment.

“We’re playing catch up,” says Dalton. 

Having a Place at the Table

Dalton has particular praise for BD, with whom she says she worked closely during the lead up to the installation.

“It’s unusual for our patients to have a place at the table,” says Dalton. “They were interested in our patients’ needs.” 

The BD COR System is a fully automated, high-throughput infectious disease molecular diagnostics platform. The first test PPMM is using will be the BD CTGCTV2 molecular assay. Automation, moderate complexity, and the faster turnaround time is also critical for PPMM’s patients, most of whom are 200% below the poverty level, allowing them to get treatment in a more timely manner, before their symptoms lead to worse disease, Dalton observes.

STI Testing with Dignity

PPMM specializes in patient-centered care, and COR is helping the staff to deliver this. For example, patients—many of whom have experienced sexual trauma—have the option of self-swabbing their samples. 

And while these patients may not have the same resources as those who aren’t below the poverty line, they have the same expectations.

“They are equally deserving of reasonable time frames and respect,” says Dalton. “Having this equipment is part of delivering respect and dignified care to our patients.”

Featured Image: (L-R) Nikos Pavlidis, vice president/general manager Molecular Diagnostics & Women’s Health & Cancer, BD Integrated Diagnostic Solutions; Stacy Cross, president & CEO at Planned Parenthood Mar Monte; Matt Mahan, mayor of San Jose; Laura Dalton, DO, MBA, chief medical operating officer, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte.  Photo: BD & Planned Parenthood Mar Monte.]

Chris Wolski is chief editor of CLP.