Sexually Transmitted Infections Among Sex Workers in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

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Objective:The purpose of this study was to investigate the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), among female sex workers operating at truckstops in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands of South Africa.Methods:A total of 145 sex workers were recruited from August 1996 to March 1997. A gynecologic examination, including a speculum examination, was performed. Investigations were performed to identify gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia (infection), candidiasis, trichomoniasis, bacterial vaginosis, and HIV infection.Results:A total of 50.3% of the sex workers were HIV positive. Infection withTrichomonas vaginaliswas present in 41.3% of the women,Candida albicansin 40.6%,Neisseria gonorrheaein 14.3%, andChlamydia trachomatisin 16.4%. Bacterial vaginosis was present in 71% and active syphilis in 42.1% of the women.Conclusion:The high prevalence of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, clearly highlights the urgent need for interventions. In addition to empowering women with methods they can use and control to reduce their risk of infection, an effective approach to control of sexually transmitted infections also needs to recognize the role of the clients, such as truck drivers, so that they also are targeted for interventions.

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