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Gender differences in the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections and genital symptoms in an urban setting in southern India
  1. S Panchanadeswaran1,
  2. S C Johnson2,
  3. K H Mayer3,
  4. A K Srikrishnan2,
  5. S Sivaran1,
  6. C E Zelaya1,
  7. V F Go1,
  8. S Solomon2,
  9. M E Bentley4,
  10. D D Celentano1
  1. 1Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  2. 2Y R Gaitonde Centre for AIDS Research and Education, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
  3. 3Miriam Hospital, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
  4. 4Carolina Population Center, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 S Panchanadeswaran
 Department. of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, E6133, 615 N Wolfe St, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA; spanchan{at}


Objectives: To examine gender differences in sexual behaviour, the prevalence of laboratory-detected sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and self-reported genital symptoms in urban Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.

Study design: The data were based on a cross-sectional survey (n = 1649) of residents from low-income communities in Chennai. Data were collected during community-wide health camps comprising physical examinations, interviews and laboratory testing between March and June 2001.

Results: The population was young, sexually active, with a low prevalence of STI. The most commonly detected STI was Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV2; 13.2%). Women had a higher prevalence of HSV2, but were more likely than men to be asymptomatic. Most of the self-reported genital symptoms could not be linked to a laboratory-detected STI. >10% of the cohort had a history of an ulcerative STI and >5% had an inflammatory STI.

Conclusions: Given a high prevalence of HSV2 in the study population, interventions targeting HSV2 transmission may be particularly relevant for this population.

  • HSV, herpes simplex virus
  • NIMH, National Institute of Mental Health
  • STI, sexually transmitted infection

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  • Published Online First 6 June 2006

  • Competing interests: None.

  • Funding: This study was supported by grants from the National Institute for Mental Health (U10 681543-01) and the Fogarty International Research and Training Center (2 D 4 3 TW000010-17-AITRP) to SP.Contributors: SP and CEZ conducted the data analysis and drafted the manuscript. DDC contributed to the study design, data collection, analysis and interpretation. KM contributed to the data analysis and manuscript format. SCJ, AKS and SS contributed to the data collection, management and study coordination in India. SS, VFG and MEB were involved in reading the manuscript and providing comments. All authors read, commented on and approved the final version of the manuscript. These sponsors had no involvement in the study design, collection, analysis, interpretation of data, writing of report or decision to submit the paper for publication.