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Prevalence of reproductive tract infections and the predictive value of girls’ symptom-based reporting: findings from a cross-sectional survey in rural western Kenya
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Details:
  • Pubmed ID:
    26819339
  • Pubmed Central ID:
    PMC4893088
  • Description:
    Objectives

    Reproductive tract infections (RTIs), including sexually acquired, among adolescent girls is a public health concern, but few studies have measured prevalence in low-middle-income countries. The objective of this study was to examine prevalence in rural schoolgirls in Kenya against their reported symptoms.

    Methods

    In 2013, a survey was conducted in 542 adolescent schoolgirls aged 14–17 years who were enrolled in a menstrual feasibility study. Vaginal self-swabbing was conducted after girls were interviewed face-to-face by trained nurses on symptoms. The prevalence of girls with symptoms and laboratory-confirmed infections, and the sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values of symptoms compared with laboratory results, were calculated.

    Results

    Of 515 girls agreeing to self-swab, 510 answered symptom questions. A quarter (24%) reported one or more symptoms; most commonly vaginal discharge (11%), pain (9%) or itching (4%). Laboratory tests confirmed 28% of girls had one or more RTI. Prevalence rose with age; among girls aged 16–17 years, 33% had infections. Bacterial vaginosis was the most common (18%), followed by Candida albicans (9%), Chlamydia trachomatis (3%), Trichomonas vaginalis (3%) and Neisseria gonorrhoeae (1%). Reported symptoms had a low sensitivity and positive predictive value. Three-quarters of girls with bacterial vaginosis and C. albicans, and 50% with T. vaginalis were asymptomatic.

    Conclusions

    There is a high prevalence of adolescent schoolgirls with RTI in rural Kenya. Public efforts are required to identify and treat infections among girls to reduce longer-term sequelae but poor reliability of symptom reporting minimises utility of symptom-based diagnosis in this population.

    Trial registration number

    ISRCTN17486946.

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