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High risk sexual behaviour in men attending a STI clinic in Durban, South Africa
  1. Nigel O'Farrell (ofarrelln{at}hotmail.com)
  1. Ealing Hospital, United Kingdom
    1. Linda Morison
    1. London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom
      1. Prashini Moodley
      1. Nelson Mandela School of Medicine, Durban, South Africa
        1. Keshree Pillay
        1. Nelson Mandela School of Medicine, Durban, South Africa
          1. Trusha Vanmali
          1. Nelson Mandela School of Medicine, Durban, South Africa
            1. Maria Quigley
            1. London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom
              1. A Wim Sturm
              1. Nelson Mandela School of Medicine, Durban, South Africa

                Abstract

                Objectives: A study of men with genital ulcer disease (GUD) in Durban at the start of the local HIV epidemic in 1988/89 found that 36% of men with GUD continued with sexual intercourse despite symptoms. The aim of this study was to determine whether this high-risk behaviour was still prevalent and to enquire about similar risk behaviours with other STI-related problems.

                Methods: 650 men attending the main Durban STI clinic with a new complaint were enrolled. A standard questionnaire was administered. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests were done to diagnose genital herpes from ulcer specimens and gonorrhoea and chlamydia from those with urethral discharge and/or dysuria. Serology tests were done for HIV, HSV-2 and syphilis.

                Results: Sex since the start of symptoms was reported by between 33.3%- 43.9% of men with GUD, herpetic ulcers, gonorrhoea and/or chlamydia or dysuria. Condom use was very low in all groups having sex despite symptoms. In 87 men with genital ulcers confirmed positive for genital herpes by PCR testing, 30 (34.4%) had had sex since the start of symptoms, 28 (93.3%) of whom had had unprotected sex.

                Conclusions: There is a high level of risk behaviour in this group of men in whom genital herpes is the most common cause of GUD. This risky sexual behaviour could reflect disinhibition, possibly because so many have been infected with HSV-2 already, lack of education or other unknown factors. Syndromic STI management should be strengthened with intensive health education to promote community awareness of both genital ulceration and genital herpes and their role in facilitating HIV transmission. The low level of condom use indicates that condom promotion programmes still have much to achieve.

                • Africa
                • Genital herpes
                • Genital ulcers
                • STDs
                • Sexual behaviour

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