Objective: To determine the prevalence of vaginitis, syphilis and HIV infection in women in the Orange Free State.
Method: By cluster sampling, 120 rural (farm) and 120 urban (local authority) clusters, each containing 4 women, were selected. Women aged 18-49 years who were included in the study had a cervical smear taken for cytological evaluation and blood specimens drawn for syphilis and HIV testing; they were questioned on their knowledge of AIDS.
Results: Trichomonas vaginalis vaginitis was present in 27.4% of the rural women and 29.6% of the urban women, Gardnerella vaginalis in 7.2% and 8.4% and Candida spp. in 2.6% and 6.7% respectively. Syphilis serology was positive in 12% of rural and 16% of urban women. HIV was present in 0.4% of rural and 1.5% of urban women. Ninety per cent of urban women and 74% of rural women knew AIDS was a sexually transmitted disease.
Conclusions: The prevalences of trichomonas vaginitis and syphilis were unusually high, while HIV positivity was similar to that in other reports in South Africa.