Background: No community-based study on the magnitude of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) has ever been conducted among young people in Ethiopia.
Goal: To assess the magnitude of Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae infections and status of sexual risk behavior among youths (15-24 years old) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Study design: Youths in or out of school residing in two (of the six) administrative zones in Addis Ababa served as the study population. Participants filled out a self-administered questionnaire related to sexuality and its sociocultural determinants. First-void urine (FVU) was analyzed for gonorrhea and chlamydial infection by polymerase chain reaction (PCR).
Results: A total of 561 youths took part in the study. Urine PCR was performed for 522 of them. Nine subjects (1.7%) were found to have and N gonorrhoeae and C trachomatis infections. There were five cases (1.0%) involving each agent. Double infection was noted in one female subject. All but one of the infections were detected among the out-of-school youths (chi-square = 4.5; < 0.05). None of these subjects complained of symptoms suggestive of an active STD. One-third (188/561) reported having had sexual intercourse. The prevalence among sexually active youths was thus 4.8% (9/188) for both infections combined (2.7% for each agent). While 7/52 (13.5%) of the sexually active females were found to also have STDs, only 2/136 (1.5%) of the males had an STD (chi-square = 8.0; < 0.01). Report of sexual activity was significantly associated with being male, an age of >/=20 years, out-of-school status, and report of alcohol/khat (amphetamine-like substance) consumption. Females reported less condom use, whether they were in or out of school and independent of age.
Conclusions: Out-of-school youths, especially females, took more sexual risk and were exceedingly susceptible to STDs. This calls for alternative group-targeted strategies for sex education, disease prevention, and STD screening and management.