BACKGROUND - Little is known about infection rates for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other diseases that can be transmitted sexually in Bangladeshi women who may be at intermediate levels of risk--that is, women who are not commercial sex workers (CSWs) but whose sexual contacts may include men at high risk for STD. This study examines HIV/hepatitis/STD and other genital tract infections in women living near Tejgaon truck stand in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
METHODS - This population based study was conducted from January to December 1998. A random sample of 384 women provided urine and blood samples and participated in an interview; 261 of them also had a physical examination in which vaginal and cervical specimens were taken. Laboratory tests included PCR on urine and cervical swabs for gonorrhoea and chlamydia, culture for trichomoniasis, serology tests for syphilis, herpes simplex 2, hepatitis B, C, D, HIV1, HIV2, and clinical diagnoses of other genital tract infections.
RESULTS - None of the participants tested positive for HIV. In the 261 women who had a physical examination, trichomoniasis was detected in 19.5%, chlamydia in 3.4%, gonorrhoea in 5.4%, bacterial vaginosis in 37.2%, and candidiasis in 10%. In the full sample of 384 women, with tests of urine and blood, prevalence of infection with chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, and herpes simplex 2 was detected in 0%, 6.3%, 5.7%, and 32% respectively. Almost 50% of the subjects had ever been exposed to hepatitis B, 3.6% were currently infective, 1.6% had hepatitis C, and none had hepatitis D.
CONCLUSION - The high prevalence of certain of these infectious diseases indicates the need to implement prevention interventions with these women and, perhaps more importantly, with their male partners. Qualitative research is needed to provide insights into their sexual behaviour and the contexts in which high risk behaviours occur.