Once relegated to the domain of research laboratories, molecular methods for the diagnosis of infectious disease had little, if any place, in a clinical diagnostic laboratory prior to 1985.
Procedurally, molecular methods were very complex and required specialized instrumentation and dedicated laboratory space. They were also susceptible, initially, to the influence of variation of technique. Although they represented valuable research tools, and were helpful as esoteric testing for unique clinical situations, their performance characteristics simply did not fit well into most clinical laboratories.
Certain pathogens were logical targets for development. Organisms that were of concern for significant patient populations, were difficult to sustain in transport, and/or were difficult to cultivate and detect by traditional methods represented some of the first targets of commercially offered molecular based assays.
Sexually transmitted diseases, affecting significant numbers of people, with key pathogens affected by lability in transport or poor sensitivity with traditional cultivation or antigen detection methods, were among the first targets for development.