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Int J STD AIDS. 1994 Nov-Dec;5(6):424-31.

Prevalence and incidence of syphilis and its association with HIV-1 infection in a population-based study in the Kagera region of Tanzania.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Muhimbili University College of Health Sciences, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.


Population-based prevalence and incidence studies on HIV-1 infection were started in the Kagera region of Tanzania in 1987. The prevalence and incidence of infection with Treponema pallidum was studied to enable development of better strategies for STD control. Serological diagnosis of a past or treated infection with Troponema pallidum was made by seropositivity only to TPHA testing while active syphilis was diagnosed by seropositivity to both VDRL and TPHA tests. Seroconversion was measured in 1989 by finding TPHA serologically positive individuals during the follow-up period among the initially seronegative study population of 1987. The overall prevalence of active syphilis in the total sample of adults in the region was found to be 5.9% while that of past syphilis was 13.5%. The association between the prevalence of HIV-1 infection and syphilis of both types was found to be highly significant. However, the association between one pre-existing infection and seroconversion in the other was present but not statistically significant. The overall incidence of syphilis based on seroconversion in a cohort of adults in the region was found to be 11.6 per 1000 person-years at risk. In view of these findings, syphilis is a significant health problem in the region with a high level of transmission and efforts should be made to control it. Intervention studies should use these base-line data and monitor changes in syphilis incidence which may indicate changes in sexual behaviour. Such indicators could also be useful for evaluating the impact of interventions directed at reducing the transmission of HIV, syphilis and other STDs in the region.

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