OBJECTIVES: To determine the prevalence of genital Chlamydia trachomatis infections in commercial street sex workers (CSSW) in Jamaica. METHODS: The prevalence of C trachomatis infection was determined in 129 Jamaican CSSW using the direct fluorescent antibody (DFA) method and the isolation techniques which utilise fluorescent and iodine staining of endocervical cytobrush specimens cultured in McCoy cells. The seroprevalence of C trachomatis in the CSSW was also compared with that in blood donors (n = 435), using the microimmunofluorescence (MIF) test. RESULTS: The DFA detected C trachomatis in 16% (21/129) of the specimens. The prevalence as determined by the iodine and fluorescein stained cultures was 24% (31/129) and 25% (33/129) respectively. The overall prevalence of current chlamydial infection detected by the isolation techniques used was 25% (33/129). As determined by the MIF test, a statistically significantly higher seroprevalence rate of C trachomatis (95%, 61/64) was found in CSSW compared with blood donors (53%, 229/435; OR 22.6; chi 2 = 49.8; p < 0.001). The prevalence of current infection in CSSW as indicated by the isolation of C trachomatis was not influenced by history of previous pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), sexually transmitted disease, or condom use. N gonorrhoeae (9%) and Candida albicans (7%) were found in comparatively low frequencies, while Trichomonas vaginalis (0%) was not found in specimens from the CSSW. CONCLUSIONS: A high seroprevalence rate and a high rate of current infection with C trachomatis occur in Jamaican CSSW. In order to control the spread and prevent the severe clinical complications and sequelae of C trachomatis infection, the diagnosis and treatment in such high risk groups such as CSSW should be optimised.
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