OBJECTIVES: Few studies have evaluated the relation between male and female sexual behaviour and STD among married African women. The objectives of this study were to identify male and female sexual behaviour associated with female STD, and to explore whether incorporating male and female sexual behaviour and male symptoms can improve algorithms for STD management in married African women. METHODS: 99 married couples with one symptomatic member (58 males, 41 females) attending an STD clinic in Lusaka, Zambia were interviewed separately about sexual and contraceptive behaviour, and had physical examinations. Diagnostic tests for Neisseria gonorrhoeae (GC), Trichomonas vaginalis (TV), and HIV were performed. Bivariate and multivariate odds ratios for the association between sexual behaviour and STD were calculated. Predictive algorithms based on current Zambian guidelines for management of STD in women were created. RESULTS: Among women at baseline, 10% were positive for GC, 14% for TV, 52% for HIV. Female alcohol use before sex, a male's paying for sex, and a couple's having sex unprotected by condoms or spermicides were associated with female STD. Incorporation of these behaviours along with symptoms of urethral discharge and dysuria among husbands increased the predictive ability of algorithms for management of STD in women. CONCLUSIONS: The addition of male and female sexual behaviour and male STD symptoms to diagnostic algorithms for female STD should be explored in other settings. Both husbands' and wives' behaviour independently predict STD in these women; risk reduction programmes should target both men's and women's sexual behaviour.
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