Dr. Heidi Jones and colleagues recently published a paper comparing HIV RNA genital viral load quantification for three different genital sampling collection methods – menstrual cup, endocervical swab, and endocervical swab enriched cervicovaginal lavage. Dr. Jones and colleagues compared HIV RNA levels among specimens collected using the three methods, from 51 HIV-positive, anti-retroviral therapy-naive women in South Africa.
They found the menstrual cup and swab enriched lavage to have higher proportions of HIV RNA detection and viral load than the swab. Further, the menstrual cup generally had higher detection rates than the lavage, but also had a higher proportion of insufficient specimens for processing. As the menstrual cup can be self-inserted and removed and the women found it acceptable to use, with optimization to ensure sufficient specimen collection, the menstrual cup may be the best sampling method to measure HIV genital viral load in women.
Jaumdally SZ, Jones HE, Hoover DR, et al. Comparison of sampling methods to measure HIV RNA viral load in female genital tract secretions. Am J Reprod Immunol. 2017;77:e12619.