Sexually Transmitted Disease Syndromes in Rural South Africa. Results From Health Facility Surveillance

Sex Transm Dis. 1998 Jan;25(1):20-3. doi: 10.1097/00007435-199801000-00005.


Background and objective: Surveillance for sexually transmitted diseases (STD) is important for priority setting, service development, and evaluating interventions.

Goal: To conduct health facility-based surveillance for STDs to inform design of a control program and to provide baseline measures for evaluation of interventions.

Study design: Surveillance system for patients with STD syndromes in public and private sector health facilities in Hlabisa, South Africa.

Results: Over a 5-month period, 4,781 patients with an STD were reported, 3,126 (65%) by clinics and 1,655 (35%) by general practitioners; 2,582 (54%) were in men. Most were diagnosed with a single syndrome. Discharge was most common (49% of both male and female patients), followed by ulcer (36% of men and 14% of women). Mean symptom duration was 18 days for women and 10 days for men (p < 0.0001). A quarter reported having another STD in the previous 3 months. The highest age-specific incidence was estimated at 16.4% among women 20 to 24 years of age.

Conclusions: The burden of STDs is high in rural South Africa. There is considerable scope for improved disease control, and the private sector has an important role to play.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / therapy
  • South Africa / epidemiology