Sexually transmitted infections and reproductive health morbidity in a cohort of female sex workers screened for a microbicide feasibility study in Nellore, India
Women constitute 38% of India’s 2.4 million HIV-infected persons. Microbicides are potential HIV-prevention products currently undergoing clinical trials for efficacy. A four-month placebo vaginal gel trial was conducted in Nellore, India to determine the feasibility of recruiting a suitable cohort of female sex workers (FSWs) for a future vaginal microbicide efficacy trial. We report on the HIV and STI prevalence and reproductive health (RH) morbidity of FSWs screened for the trial. | Results: 529 FSWs completed screening procedures; of those 33.6% were found ineligible. The mean age was 30.9 years; 68.6% women were married and 57.5% were home-based FSWs. Self-reported symptoms included abnormal vaginal discharge (31.6%), genital itching (3.4%), uterine mass/prolapse (3%) and painful intercourse (2.6%). Gynecological surgery was reported by 73.2% of participants; of those 10.5% had undergone a hysterectomy. Female sterilization was the most commonly reported contraceptive method. Pelvic examination showed vaginal discharge (50.7%), cervical discharge (5.3%), uterine/vaginal wall prolapse (2.6%), and cervical mass/nodule/vesicles/genital warts (4.2%). Common epithelial findings included erythema (79.1%) and vesicles/bullae (6%); 46% of participants had Papanicolaou tests graded as inflammatory and 1.1% as malignant. HSV-2 was the mostly commonly detected STI (60.7%) followed by trichomoniasis (15.5%), HIV (5.3%), syphilis (2.8%), chlamydia (2.2%) and gonorrhoea (0.7%). RTIs were more common: bacterial vaginosis (27.8%) and candidiasis (18.9%). Conclusions: The low HIV prevalence and high RH morbidity in the population makes this site unsuitable for a future phase 2 or 3 microbicide efficacy trial. HIV prevention programs targeting this population should include access to RH services.
Sarna, Avina, Barbara Friedland, Aylur K. Srikrishnan, Lauren L. Katzen, Waimar Tun, Sharon Abbott, Ulrike Rawiel, Christine A. Kelly, C.S. Shalini, Suniti Solomon, and Barbara Mensch. 2013. "Sexually transmitted infections and reproductive health morbidity in a cohort of female sex workers screened for a microbicide feasibility study in Nellore, India," Global Journal of Health Science 5(3): 139–149.