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Sex Transm Infect. 2008 Jun;84(3):224-6. doi: 10.1136/sti.2007.029488. Epub 2008 Feb 18.

Sexually transmitted infections knowledge and its impact in the practice of risky sexual behaviours and HIV serostatus: results from rural Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.

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Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Muhimbili University of Health Sciences, PO Box 65015, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.



To investigate the level of knowledge of different categories of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and their impact on practice of risky sexual behaviours and HIV transmission in rural Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.


A cross-sectional study, including all individuals aged 15-44 years living in Oria village, Kahe ward, was conducted between March and May 2005. All consenting individuals were interviewed and offered HIV testing.


The response rate was 73.0% (1528/2093). Overall, knowledge of STIs was 38.6%. Having a casual partner (59.4%) and multiple sexual partners (50.6%) were mentioned as the most potential sources of STI. Genital ulcers and vaginal discharge were the predominant symptoms noted whereas abstinence and condom use were the preferred preventive measures. Knowledge of STI complications, including HIV transmission, was very low (22.0%) in this community. The low knowledge of STI complications was significantly associated with recent (past 4 weeks) practice of multiple sexual partners (AOR 2.4, 95% CI 1.1 to 8.7), not using condoms with casual partners (AOR, 2.7, 95% CI 1.2 to 7.5) and HIV serostatus (AOR 3.4, 95% CI 1.8 to 14.5).


Overall STI knowledge and its link to HIV transmission was alarmingly low in this community. Knowledge of STI complications may play an important role in inducing safer sexual behaviours and hence HIV prevention. Interventions addressing HIV/STI knowledge should put more emphasis on raising awareness of complications as this may play a major role in HIV/STI prevention.

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