Performance of the SD BIOLINE® HAT rapid test in various diagnostic algorithms for gambiense human African trypanosomiasis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

We carried out a study to compare the performance, in terms of sensitivity and specificity, of the new SD BIOLINE® HAT rapid diagnostic test (RDT) with the card agglutination test for trypanosomiasis (CATT) for diagnosis of human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Participants were enrolled actively by four mobile teams, and passively at four health facilities in three provinces. Consenting participants were tested concurrently with the RDT and CATT on whole blood. Those found positive by either test were tested with CATT on serial dilutions of plasma, and with a parasitological composite reference standard (CRS). Cases were only the individuals found positive by the CRS, while controls were negative by both CATT and RDT, as well as those that were positive by CATT or RDT, but were negative by the CRS, and had no history of HAT. Over five months, 131 cases and 13,527 controls were enrolled. The sensitivity of the RDT was 92.0% (95% confidence interval (CI) = 86.1–95.5), which was significantly higher than CATT (sensitivity 69.1%; 95% CI = 60.7–76.4). The sensitivity of CATT on plasma at a dilution of 1:8 was 59.0% (95% CI = 50.2–67.2). The specificity of the RDT was 97.1% (95% CIs = 96.8–97.4) while that of CATT was 98.0% (95% CIs = 97.8, 98.2) and specificities of algorithms involving CATT at 1:8 dilution were 99.6% (95% CI = 99.5–99.7). Reproducibility of results was excellent. We concluded that an algorithm in which the SD BIOLINE® HAT RDT is used for screening is optimal for case detection in both passive and active screening settings. However, the lower specificity of the RDT compared to that of CATT would result in a larger number of false positive individuals undergoing confirmatory testing.