Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Sex Transm Dis. 2004 Mar;31(3):174-9.

Intravaginal practices, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases among South African women.

Author information

  • 1School of Public Health & Family Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa.

Erratum in

  • Sex Transm Dis. 2004 Jun;31(6):391.



Intravaginal practices, including wiping, douching, or inserting substances into the vagina, have been hypothesized to increase women's risk of HIV infection. However, data on the prevalence of these practices, and associations with HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STD), are limited.


We interviewed 2,897 women participating in a gynecologic screening study in Cape Town, South Africa, about their intravaginal practices. After clinical examination, cervical and blood samples were collected and tested for HIV and other STD [corrected].


Of the 831 (29%) women reporting some type of intravaginal practice, 48% reported using only water and cloth to clean inside the vagina, whereas 17% reported using antiseptics or detergents. Most women (53%) reported practices as part of regular hygiene. Intravaginal practices were strongly associated with behavioral risk factors, and recent multiple sexual partners [corrected]. Intravaginal practices were associated with prevalent HIV infection (adjusted odds ratio, 1.74; 95% confidence interval, 1.37-2.20), but were not associated with other STDs.


Prospective studies that include detailed measurements of correlated sexual risk behaviors are required to discern whether this association is causal in nature; if so, these behaviors could represent an important area for future HIV prevention interventions.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
    Loading ...
    Support Center