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Sexually transmitted infections among married women in Dhaka, Bangladesh: unexpected high prevalence of herpes simplex type 2 infection
  1. J Bogaerts1,
  2. J Ahmed2,
  3. N Akhter2,
  4. N Begum2,
  5. M Rahman1,
  6. S Nahar1,
  7. M Van Ranst3,
  8. J Verhaegen3
  1. 1Laboratory Sciences Division, ICDDR,B, Dhaka, Bangladesh
  2. 2Bangladesh Women's Health Coalition, Dhaka, Bangladesh
  3. 3Laboratory of Microbiology, University of Leuven, Belgium
  1. J Bogaerts, Laboratory Sciences Division, ICDDR,B, GPO Box 128, Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh bogaerts{at}


Objectives: To document the prevalence of reproductive tract infections (RTI) and sexually transmitted infections (STI) among women attending a basic healthcare clinic in Dhaka, Bangladesh, to identify risk factors associated with the diseases and to estimate the incidence of syphilis, hepatitis C (HCV), hepatitis B (HBV), and herpes simplex type 2 (HSV-2) infection.

Methods: A cross sectional sample of 2335 consecutive women was examined during 1996–8. Women were interviewed about risk factors for RTI/STI and tested for Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Chlamydia trachomatis, Trichomonas vaginalis, Treponema pallidum, HIV, HCV, HBV, HSV-1 and HSV-2 infection as well as vaginal candidosis and bacterial vaginosis. Women with antibodies to T pallidum were retested at regular intervals. One year after ending the study seroconversion for syphilis, HBV, HCV, and HSV-2 infection was detected among women initially negative for the respective diseases.

Results: The overall prevalence rate of N gonorrhoeae, C trachomatis, T vaginalis, and T pallidum infection was 0.5%, 1.9%, 2.0%, and 2.9% respectively. Overall, 35% of the women had antibodies to hepatitis B core antigen, 0.9% had HCV, and 12% HSV-2 infection. Risk factors for gonorrhoea/C trachomatis infection were a husband not living at home or suspected of being unfaithful. HSV-2 infection was associated with the same risk factors and with a polygamous marriage. The prevalence of HSV-2 infection among women “at risk” was 23%. HIV infection was not diagnosed. Repeated serological examination indicated that only 32% of women with serological evidence of syphilis had active disease. The seroincidences of HBV, HCV, and HSV-2 were 0.03, 0.007, and 0.009 per person year. Seroconversion for syphilis was not observed.

  • sexually transmitted infections
  • genital herpes
  • Bangladesh

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