Gender differences in health care-seeking behavior for sexually transmitted diseases: a population-based study in Nairobi, Kenya

Sex Transm Dis. 2004 May;31(5):265-72. doi: 10.1097/01.olq.0000124610.65396.52.


Background: Health care-seeking behavior for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) is important in STD/HIV control.

Goal: The goal of this study was to describe the proportion seeking care, patient delay, and choice of provider among men and women with STD-related complaints in Nairobi, Kenya.

Study design: A population-based questionnaire was administered in 7 randomly selected clusters (small geographic areas covering approximately 150 households each).

Results: Of the 291 respondents reporting complaints, 20% of men versus 35% of women did not seek care, mainly because symptoms were not considered severe, symptoms had disappeared, or as a result of lack of money. Of those who sought care, women waited longer than men (41 vs. 16 days). Most men and women went to the private sector (72% and 57%, respectively), whereas the informal sector was rarely visited (13% and 16%, respectively). Relatively more women visited the government sector (28% vs. 15%). Because women were mostly monogamous, they did not relate their complaints to sexual intercourse, which hampered prompt care-seeking.

Conclusion: Women should be convinced to seek care promptly, eg, through health education in communities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Health Education
  • Humans
  • Kenya / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / etiology
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires