Objective: To determine the prevalence of syphilis and the prevalence and incidence of self-reported STD syndromes in the population of Mwanza Region, North-Western Tanzania.
Methods: A population-based random cluster sample survey, stratified by rural, roadside or urban residence, of 4173 individuals aged 15-54 years was performed in 1990-91. The seroprevalence of syphilis (using TPHA and RPR) and the prevalence and incidence of self-reported genital ulcer syndrome (GUS) and genital discharge syndrome (GDS) were determined.
Results: Active syphilis was detected in 9% of the adult population, while 15% had serological evidence of past or current infection. Seroprevalence was significantly lower in the rural than in the roadside and urban populations, but there was little difference between men and women. Amongst men, a history of GDS was reported by 28%, and a history of GUS by 14%, with point prevalences of 2.3% and 1.3% respectively. Annual incidence among men were 6.8% for GDS and 3.6% for GUS. Women reported these conditions less frequently. There was little difference between the strata in the prevalence or incidence of reported STD syndromes.
Conclusion: Sexually transmitted diseases represent a major public health problem in both the rural and urban populations of Mwanza Region.