Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), among female sex workers operating at truckstops in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands of South Africa.
Methods: A total of 145 sex workers were recruited from August 1996 to March 1997. A gynecologic examination, including a speculum examination, was performed. Investigations were performed to identify gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia (infection), candidiasis, trichomoniasis, bacterial vaginosis, and HIV infection.
Results: A total of 50.3% of the sex workers were HIV positive. Infection with Trichomonas vaginalis was present in 41.3% of the women, Candida albicans in 40.6%, Neisseria gonorrheae in 14.3%, and Chlamydia trachomatis in 16.4%. Bacterial vaginosis was present in 71% and active syphilis in 42.1% of the women.
Conclusion: The high prevalence of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, clearly highlights the urgent need for interventions. In addition to empowering women with methods they can use and control to reduce their risk of infection, an effective approach to control of sexually transmitted infections also needs to recognize the role of the clients, such as truck drivers, so that they also are targeted for interventions.
PIP: Findings are reported from a study conducted to assess the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, among female prostitutes working at truckstops in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands of South Africa. The 145 participating prostitutes were recruited from 5 truckstops along the major national road between Durban and Johannesburg from August 1996 to March 1997. Their mean age was 25 years and they had been prostitutes for an average of 3 years. A gynecologic examination was performed upon each woman, including a speculum examination, and investigations were also conducted to identify gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, candidiasis, trichomoniasis, bacterial vaginosis, and HIV infection. The examinations found that 50.3% of the women were HIV seropositive, 41.3% were infected with Trichomonas vaginalis, 40.6% had Candida albicans, 14.3% had Neisseria gonorrheae, 16.4% had Chlamydia trachomatis, 71% had bacterial vaginosis, and 42.1% had active syphilis. These findings point to the need for HIV/STD prevention interventions among both the prostitutes and their clients.