Background: Interventions to treat STDs have been reported to reduce HIV incidence. Interventions to improve treatment-seeking for STDs may impact on the duration and prevalence of STDs. Nigeria has high rates of STDs and an increasing incidence of HIV.
Objective: To evaluate the impact of an intervention on STD treatment-seeking behavior and STD prevalence among Nigerian youth.
Methods: A randomized controlled trial in 12 schools in Edo State was conducted to evaluate an intervention to improve STD treatment-seeking and STD treatment provision. The intervention, based on formative research, consisted of community participation, peer education, public lectures, health clubs in the schools, and training of STD treatment providers, including those with no formal training. A questionnaire measured outcomes before and 10 months into the intervention. The effect of the intervention among four randomly selected intervention schools compared to eight randomly selected control schools was assessed using logistic regression with Huber's formula to account for school clusters.
Results: One thousand eight hundred and ninety-six and 1858 youths 14-20 years of age were enrolled in the pre- and post-intervention surveys. Youths in the intervention schools, compared to control schools, reported statistically significant improvements in knowledge of STDs, condom use, partner awareness that the youth had an STD, and STD treatment-seeking behavior. Treatment by private physicians increased (OR=2.1, 95% CI=1.1-4.0), and treatment by patent medicine dealers or pharmacists decreased (OR=0.44, 95% CI=0.22-0.88). The reported prevalence of STD symptoms in the past 6 months was significantly reduced in the intervention compared to control schools (OR=0.68, 95% CI=0.48-0.95).
Conclusion: Significant improvements in treatment-seeking for STD symptoms can be effected among Nigerian youths. The prevalence of reported STD symptoms can be decreased by improving treatment-seeking for and awareness of STDs.