Background: Second generation surveillance of HIV infection and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among pregnant women in 6 Pacific Island Countries and Territories were undertaken to improve knowledge and to make recommendations on future prevention and management of STIs.
Methods: Cross-sectional studies, using standardized questionnaire, laboratory tests, and protocols were undertaken in Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu between 2004 and 2005. For each country, between 200 and 350 pregnant women aged 15 to 44 years were consecutively recruited from antenatal clinics located in the main hospital of the major urban centre of each Pacific Island Countries and Territories. Consenting participants were interviewed about their socio-demographic characteristics and their sexual behavior, and were tested for HIV, chlamydia, syphilis (Treponema pallidum antibody seroactivity), and gonorrhoea.
Results: Amongst the 1618 pregnant women studied, the most prevalent STI was chlamydia with 26.1% of women under 25 and 11.9% of women aged 25 years and over being positive. Highest infection was detected in single teenage women with 38.1% positive for chlamydia. The overall prevalence of gonorrhoea and syphilis was 1.7% and 3.4%, respectively. No case of HIV was detected. Chlamydia infection was independently associated with younger age, being nulliparous, single status, multiple lifetime sexual partners, and commercial sex activity.
Conclusion: In a population of young women, chlamydia infection was endemic. Regional leadership is needed to implement strategies to prevent the spread of chlamydia and to implement HIV and STI prevention and management.