Background Trichomonas vaginalis (TV) is the most common non-viral sexually transmitted infection in the world. TV prevalence in US women is consistently highest among African Americans (AA). However, little data exists on the risk of TV infection among women who have sex with women (WSW) and the mechanism of transmission is poorly understood. The goal of this study was to evaluate the concordance of TV isolates among AAWSW involved in sexual partnerships using the random amplified polymorphonuclear DNA (RAPD) technique.
Methods AAWSW involved in sexual partnerships and participating in a cross-sectional study of STI prevalence rates at the Mississippi State Department of Health STD clinic in Jackson, MS, were selected for this study if both women in the partnership were infected with TV. All women completed a confidential survey asking detailed sexual history questions about female and male partners during the past 12 months. The RAPD technique utilising six unique PCR primers was performed on TV clinical isolates from each sexual partnership. RAPD amplicons were collated and categorised to determine genetic similarity between isolates from paired couples.
Results TV isolates from three paired couples were included in this study. RAPD profiling demonstrated that only one out of the three pairs of TV isolates was concordant see Abstract P3-S7.05 figure 1. Within this concordant pair, both women reported engaging in oral sex and sharing wet towels during sexual activity. One woman in this pair reported recent sex with a male partner while the other woman denied history of other sexual partners during the past 3 months and had not had sex with a male partner in 5 years. Additionally, a follow-up visit of one of the members of this concordant union demonstrated a RAPD pattern discordant with previous findings indicating that the individual's initial treatment was successful and that she had acquired a new TV infection.
Conclusions Given the phenotypic similarity of banding patterns within one AAWSW sexual partnership, female to female transmission of TV may have occurred. The frequency of TV transmission between WSW is unknown at this time; however, the use of RAPD appears to be informative for differentiating isolates of TV. A prospective study examining the epidemiology and incidence of TV infection among WSW is necessary.
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