Background: Sexually transmissible infections (STIs) are common in female sex workers (FSWs), most of which are asymptomatic and therefore under-reported. Our aim was to determine the sensitivity and specificity of reported symptoms obtained via questionnaire augmented with leukocyte esterase (LE) urine dipstick test for the detection of Chlamydia trachomatis (Ct), Neisseria gonorrhea (Ng) and Trichomonas vaginalis (Tv) detected using polymerase chain reaction (PCR).
Methods: In November 2003, a cohort of FSWs was screened for STIs and completed a questionnaire.
Results: We enrolled 129 FSWs (90% participation rate) of whom 48 (37%), 30 (23%) and 53 (41%) were diagnosed with Ng, Ct and Tv, respectively, by PCR. Of those diagnosed with any of these infections, 78% reported anogenital symptoms and of those without infections, 28% reported symptoms. Anogenital symptoms were present in over 50% FSWs. Genital odour (present in 26%), lower abdominal pain (present in 29%), dysuria (present in 19%) had a sensitivity around (50%), specificity (>80%) and all were significantly associated with positive PCR results for individual organisms; however, the sensitivity of these symptoms to detect the presence of any positive PCR result was low (<50%). When LE urine dipstick test result of >1 was combined with the presence of three reported symptoms the sensitivity was 86%, specificity of 73% and a positive predictive value of 72%; a better predictor of infections.
Conclusions: Our finding suggest an approach that incorporates LE urine dipstick test >1 and multiple symptoms may be a feasible option for screening infections among FSWs in resource constraint settings.