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Clin Infect Dis. 1996 Mar;22(3):477-84.

Signs and symptoms of prevalent and incident cases of gonorrhea and genital chlamydial infection among female prostitutes in Kinshasa, Zaire.

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  • 1Department of Infection and Immunity, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium.


Most studies that have examined the clinical features of gonorrhea and chlamydial infection have been based on prevalent cases (cases of undetermined onset). In our investigation, we compared signs and symptoms of incident (new) cases of these infections with those observed in prevalent cases (involving the same women) that were diagnosed at enrollment in a prospective study of female prostitutes in Kinshasa, Zaire. Neisseria gonorrhoeae or Chlamydia trachomatis was present at enrollment in 29.2% (225 of 771) of the women in the study. As they were followed during the study, 509 (66.0%) had at least one episode of gonorrhea or chlamydial infection. No symptom was significantly associated with these infections at enrollment or during follow-up. Clinical signs, such as endocervical mucopus (P < .001) and vaginal discharge (P = .001), were associated with both the prevalent and incident cases. However, none of these signs was simultaneously sensitive and specific for detection of these infections. The frequency of clinical signs was significantly reduced after successful treatment (all P values, < .05). This study shows that a syndromic approach to screening for gonococcal and chlamydial infections in female prostitutes is as problematic for acute incident cases as for prevalent cases. Therefore, there is still an urgent need for simple, cheap, reliable tests that could be used in sexually transmitted disease intervention programs in developing countries.

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