Objectives: The purpose of this study was to identify health-care seeking and related behaviors relevant to controlling sexually transmitted diseases in Kenya.
Methods: A total of 380 patients with sexually transmitted diseases (n = 189 men and 191 women) at eight public clinics were questioned about their health-care seeking and sexual behaviors.
Results: Women waited longer than men to attend study clinics and were more likely to continue to have sex while symptomatic. A large proportion of patients had sought treatment previously in both the public and private sectors without relief of symptoms, resulting in delays in presenting to study clinics. For women, being married and giving a recent history of selling sex were both independently associated with continuing to have sex while symptomatic.
Conclusions: Reducing the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases in Kenya will require improved access, particularly for women, to effective health services, preferably at the point of first contact with the health system. It is also critical to encourage people to reduce sexual activity while symptomatic, seek treatment promptly, and increase condom use.