Sexually transmitted infections other than HIV/AIDS among women of low socio-economic class attending antenatal clinics in Khartoum, Sudan

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Abstract

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are major health threats affecting people globally; however, the burden of STIs is greatest in low-income countries. Since they are physiologically more vulnerable, women are mostly affected. The risk is increased dramatically during pregnancy leading to serious health complications that may affect the newborn. Underprivileged pregnant women attending antenatal clinics for routine checkups in displaced camps, a women's prison and several peripheral health centres were clinically and laboratory screened for trichomoniasis, chlamydial infections, gonorrhea and syphilis. A total of 426 women with an age range of 14-45 years were included. Clinical data, blood, cervical and vaginal swabs were collected. Conventional bacteriological and serological methods were applied. All attendees were HIV1/2-negative. The prevalence of Trichomonas vaginalis, Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Treponema pallidum infections was found to be 7.8%, 4.9%, 0% and 5%, respectively. Although vaginal discharge, among other symptoms, is known to be the most significant indicator for STIs, our identified positive predictive value was only 14.1%. We conclude that use of syndromic approach for diagnosing and treating attendees of antenatal settings is of low clinical value and many easily curable STIs will be overlooked. Consequently, trichomoniasis, chlamydial infection and syphilis prevailed widely among this population.

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