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Risk-based screening to identify reproductive tract infection among HIV-infected women desiring use of intrauterine contraceptives


Background Reproductive tract infections (RTIs) are a major cause of morbidity and mortality, yet RTI testing remains limited in resource-constrained settings. We assessed performance of an existing RTI risk assessment screening tool among women living with HIV (WLHIV) considering intrauterine contraceptive (IUC) use.

Methods We conducted a cross-sectional analysis among WLHIV screened for participation in an IUC trial in Cape Town, South Africa (NCT01721798). RTI testing included Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Chlamydia trachomatis, Trichomonas vaginalis and bacterial vaginosis. Tool scoring was based on five separately scored criteria: (1) age under 25 years, (2) cohabitation with a partner, (3) secondary education, (4) self-reported intermenstrual bleeding and (5) number of current sexual partners and condom use frequency (score 0–5). We assessed tool performance in detecting RTI at 0 vs 1–5, 0–1 vs 2–5 and 0–2 vs 3–5 score thresholds.

Results Of 303 women, 52% (n=157) reported antiretroviral therapy use and median age was 31 years. The prevalence of any RTI was 38% (gonorrhoea=7%, chlamydia=11%, trichomoniasis=12% and bacterial vaginosis=18%) and 8% of women had multiple RTIs. Overall, 4%, 27% and 69% of women had screening tool scores of 0, 1 or 2+, respectively. At a threshold of at least one scored criterion, the tool demonstrated high sensitivities (95%–97%) but low specificities (3%–4%) for detecting any RTI. Increasing the score threshold and/or inclusion of abnormal vaginal discharge marginally improved specificity.

Conclusion The prevalence of RTIs observed in this population was high, and the screening tool had no discriminatory power to detect prevalent RTIs.

  • intrauterine devices
  • sexually transmitted infections
  • human immunodeficiency virus
  • cervical screening

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. Individual participant data that underlie the article results (tables and figures) are available for meta-analysis from 3-24 months following article publication.

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