Indian J Sex Transm Dis Indian J Sex Transm Dis
Official Publication of the Indian Association for the Study of Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Indian J Sex Transm Dis
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Papanicolaou smear: A diagnostic aid in sexually transmitted infections

 Department of Dermatology and Venereology, Government Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India

Correspondence Address:
Sabeena Jayapalan,
Department of Dermatology and Venereology, Government Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram - 695 011, Kerala
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijstd.IJSTD_114_16

Background: Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are a major public health problem in developing countries, and treatment with the right medicine at the right time is necessary to reduce transmission and improve sexual and reproductive health. Laboratory diagnosis has undergone changes in the recent years. The new generation tests are not cost-effective in resource-poor settings. Papanicolaou smear (Pap smear) of the cervix is a simple, quick, and inexpensive screening procedure for cervical cancer that can also give a clue to the presence of STIs. Methods: A hospital-based cross-sectional design with fifty patients was conducted studied. The initial diagnosis based on clinical findings and routine laboratory results was compared with the final diagnosis incorporating Pap smear results. Results: The Pap smear was abnormal in 96%, and they were koilocytosis (30%), endocervicitis (24%), Trichomonas vaginalis (16%), multinucleated giant cells (10%), low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (10%), and clue cells (8%). Pap smear could diagnose an infection in 64%, of which 38% were asymptomatic. Clinical and Pap smear correlation was found only in 26% of the patients. Conclusion: Along with the conventional methods, Pap smear can be a valuable tool in diagnosing STIs. This can detect asymptomatic infections, not detected by conventional methods, thus preventing complications and further spread in the community. Asymptomatic human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and trichomoniasis are the two STIs that can be easily detected by Pap smear. By detecting asymptomatic cervical HPV infection, the patients at risk for carcinoma of the cervix can be identified and referred to gynecology department for further management.

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