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BMC Infect Dis. 2010 May 21;10:127. doi: 10.1186/1471-2334-10-127.

The burden and risk factors of Sexually Transmitted Infections and Reproductive Tract Infections among pregnant women in Zimbabwe.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe.



Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and Reproductive tract infections (RTIs) are responsible for high morbidity among women. We aim to quantify the magnitude of the burden and risk factors of STI/RTI s among pregnant women in Zimbabwe.


A cross sectional study of pregnant women enrolled at 36 weeks of gestation from the national PMTCT program. Study was conducted from three peri-urban clinics around Harare Zimbabwe offering maternal and child health services.


A total of 691 pregnant women were enrolled. Prevalence of HSV was (51.1%), HIV (25.6%) syphilis (1.2%), Trichomonas vaginalis (11.8%), bacterial vaginosis (32.6%) and Candidiasis (39.9%). Seven percent of the women had genital warts, 3% had genital ulcers and 28% had an abnormal vaginal discharge. Prevalence of serological STIs and vaginal infections were 51% and 64% respectively. Risk factors for a positive serologic STI were increasing age above 30 years, polygamy and multigravid; adjusted OR (95% CI) 2.61(1.49-4.59), 2.16(1.06-4.39), 3.89(1.27-11.98) respectively, partner taking alcohol and number of lifetime sexual partners. For vaginal infections it was age at sexual debut; OR (95% CI) 1.60(1.06-2.42). More than 25% of the women reported previous STI treatment. Fifty two percent reported ever use of condoms and 65% were on oral contraceptives. Mean age gap for sexual partners was 6.3 years older.


There is a high morbidity of STI/RTIs in this cohort. There is need to continuously screen, counsel, treat and monitor trends of STI/RTIs to assess if behaviour changes lead to reduction in infections and their sustainability.

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