Introduction Most sexually transmitted infection (STI) management efforts focus on the syndrome approach to diagnose and treat patients who are symptomatic. However, most women with STIs are known to be entirely asymptomatic or if symptoms exist are often unrecognised either clinically or bacteriologically. We determine the true prevalence and aetiology of STIs among these women in Ghana.
Methods This cross sectional study conducted between February and April 2014 employed a sensitive multiplex real time Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay that simultaneously detects seven STI bacteria pathogens in 200 women attending a Specialist STI clinic at Suntreso Government Hospital in Kumasi, Ghana. Data was captured and analysed using Stata version 12.
Results A total 156 (78.00%) of the women were asymptomatic. Overall, 175 (87.5%) of the women tested positive for at least one bacteria STI pathogen of which 50 (25.0%) had single infections, 76 (38.0%) and 39 (19.5%) had double and triple infections respectively. Mycoplasma hominis was the most commonly detectable pathogen present in 135 (67.5%) women. Altogether, 135 (86.54%) and 40 (90.91%) of the symptomatic and asymptomatic women tested positive for at least one pathogen (p < 0.05). There were no significant associations (p < 0.05) between the clinical manifestations as presented by the symptomatic women and the pathogens detected in their samples.
Conclusion Our study confirmed the importance of complementing the syndromic approach with pathogen detection and most importantly recognise that STIs in women are asymptomatic and regular empirical testing even for both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients is.
Disclosure of interest statement No conflict of interest.
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