OBJECTIVE--To determine the association of sexually transmitted pathogens in women with cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia (CIN). SETTING--An urban tertiary referral hospital serving a large indigent developing community. PARTICIPANTS--48 women attending a colposcopy clinic and 49 women attending a family planning clinic. METHODS--Vaginal, endocervical, rectal swab specimens and sera were collected for the detection of sexually transmitted pathogens. Cervical cytology was performed on all patients. Women attending the colposcopy clinic had confirmation of abnormal cervical cytology by colposcopic directed biopsy. RESULTS--The mean age of women with CIN (33 years) was significantly greater than that of the women without CIN (28 years) and that of the family planning group (26 years). There was a high prevalence of sexually transmitted pathogens in all women. A significantly higher prevalence of bacterial vaginosis was found in women with CIN compared to those without (50% vs 20%; p = 0.034). The human papilloma virus (HPV) was detected in 46% of women with CIN and 65% of those without CIN. Chlamydia trachomatis (21%) and Trichomonas vaginalis (39%) were detected frequently in women with CIN. C. trachomatis (14%-21%) was detected more frequently than Neisseria gonorrhoeae (3-5%) in all asymptomatic women studied. CONCLUSION--This study demonstrates a high prevalence of sexually transmitted pathogens in women with and without CIN as well as family planning clinic attenders. Bacterial vaginosis was a significant finding in women with CIN. C. trachomatis was detected in a high proportion of all women studied and found more commonly than N. gonorrhoeae. We therefore recommend that all women attending gynaecological services in a developing community be investigated and treated for sexually transmitted diseases.
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