Serological survey of HIV and syphilis in pregnant women in Madagascar

Trop Med Int Health. 2013 Jan;18(1):35-9. doi: 10.1111/tmi.12007. Epub 2012 Oct 24.


Objectives: Peripartal transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Treponema pallidum, the causative agent of syphilis, leads to severe consequences for newborns. Preventive measures require awareness of the maternal infection. Although HIV and syphilis testing in Madagascar could be theoretically carried out within the framework of the national pregnancy follow-up scheme, the required test kits are rarely available at peripheral health centres. In this study, we screened blood samples of pregnant Madagascan women for HIV and syphilis seroprevalence to estimate the demand for systemic screening in pregnancy.

Methods: Retrospective anonymous serological analysis for HIV and syphilis was performed in plasma samples from 1232 pregnant women that were taken between May and July 2010 in Ambositra, Ifanadiana, Manakara, Mananjary, Moramanga and Tsiroanomandidy (Madagascar) during pregnancy follow-up. Screening was based on Treponema pallidum haemagglutination tests for syphilis and rapid tests for HIV, with confirmation of positive screening results on line assays.

Results: Out of 1232 pregnant women, none were seropositive for HIV and 37 (3%) were seropositive for Treponema pallidum.

Conclusions: Our findings are in line with previous studies that describe considerable syphilis prevalence in the rural Madagascan population. The results suggest a need for screening to prevent peripartal Treponema pallidum transmission, while HIV is still rare. If they are known, Treponema pallidum infections can be easily, safely and inexpensively treated even in pregnancy to reduce the risk of transmission.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / blood
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • HIV Infections / microbiology
  • HIV*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control*
  • Madagascar / epidemiology
  • Mass Screening
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / blood
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / diagnosis
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / microbiology
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rural Population
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Syphilis / blood
  • Syphilis / diagnosis
  • Syphilis / epidemiology*
  • Syphilis / microbiology
  • Syphilis Serodiagnosis
  • Treponema pallidum*
  • Young Adult