Northern Alberta clinics testing a Canadian-made dual syphilis and HIV tests that could impact Alberta’s current syphilis outbreak

Dr. Ameeta Singh, clinical professor of medicine in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry and infectious diseases specialist at the Royal Alexandra Hospital and the Edmonton Sexually Transmitted Infections Clinicis leading a clinical trial to screen at-risk Albertans for HIV and syphilis using dual syphilis and HIV point-of-care tests. Northern Alberta and Edmonton have seen a severe syphilis outbreak since July 2019. Dr. Singh says “it is important to test for both [syphilis and HIV] at the same time as because syphilis increases a person’s chances of acquiring or passing on HIV if exposed to both at the same time.” 

The clinical trial will screen 1,500 at-risk Albertans with dual HIV and syphilis test kits at homeless shelters, the Edmonton Remand Centre, two emergency departments at Edmonton hospitals and two clinics in First Nations communities in northern Alberta. 

The dual syphilis and HIV tests are used by taking a simple finger prick of blood which can determine results in under 5 minutes and treatment can be provided immediately.   

Dr. Sean B. Rourke, director of the REACH Nexus (CIHR Centre for REACH in HIV/AIDS), which is the major funder of the trial in addition to the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR), is working to bring this and other new testing technologies to market in Canada. Please click here for more information on the recently approved HIV self-test. Dr. Rourke says “This is exciting work that Dr. Singh is leading, ‘implementation science’ that we hope will have a life-changing impact on the health and well-being of moms and their infants.” 

Once the results of the trial are finalized, the Canadian companies (biolytical and MedMirawill be able to apply for Health Canada licensing. 

You can read about Dr. Ameeta Singh’s exciting work leading a clinical trial for syphilis and HIV testing in University of Alberta press release and the Toronto Star 

For more information, please visit our New testing technologies for STBBIs webpage. We will be updating this page with new information and resources on new testing technologies and our work with REACH Nexus on an ongoing basis.