Malaria Rapid Diagnostic test (RDT) being used at the Rabuor Health Center in Kenya.

How long do rapid diagnostic tests remain positive after anti-malarial treatment?

Rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) are increasingly becoming a paradigm for both clinical diagnosis of malaria infections and for estimating community parasite prevalence in household malaria indicator surveys in malaria-endemic countries.

The antigens detected by RDTs are known to persist in the blood after treatment with anti-malarials, but reports on the duration of persistence (and the effect this has on RDT positivity) of these antigens post-treatment have been variable.

MAP PhD student Ursula Dalrymple has a new paper in Malaria Journal that collates published studies on the persistence of positivity of RDTs post-treatment and fits a bespoke Bayesian survival model to estimate the number of days RDTs remain positive after treatment.

Her work has shown RDTs remain positive for a highly variable amount of time after treatment with anti-malarials, and the duration of positivity is highly dependent on the type of RDT used for diagnosis. Additionally, age and treatment both impact the duration of persistence of RDT positivity. These results suggest caution should be taken when using RDT-derived diagnostic outcomes from cross-sectional data where individuals have had a recent history of anti-malarial treatment.

Full Citation

Dalrymple, U., Arambepola, R., Gething, PW., and Cameron, E., How long do rapid diagnostic tests remain positive after anti-malarial treatment? Malaria Journal, June 2018, 17:228


Photo of children under an insecticide-treated bed net, by Georgina Goodwin, provided to the Malaria Atlas Project by Roll Back Malaria

Patterns of insecticide resistance in African mosquito malaria vectors

malariaAtlas R Package for Accessing Data