Open Access Research article

Patterns of sexually transmitted infections in adolescents and youth in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Guerino Chalamilla1, Judica Mbwana2, Fred Mhalu2, Eunice Mmari1, Mtebe Majigo2, Andrew Swai2, Willy Urassa2* and Eric Sandstrom3

Author Affiliations

1 Ilala Municipal Council, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

2 Muhimbili University College of Health Sciences, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

3 Karolinska Institute at Stockholm Soder Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2006, 6:22  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-6-22

Published: 10 February 2006



Syndromic management of STIs has been advocated as simplified and cheap approach. Youth have been reported to be at increased risk of acquiring STIs which can facilitate HIV transmission. We have investigated the relationship between the syndromic management and specific aetiology diagnosis and its relationship with HIV infection and health seeking behaviour among youth attending a reproductive health clinic in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.


Between September 1998 and February 1999 among 1895 adolescents and youth below 25 years seen in the clinic 199 (10.5%) were randomly selected and consented to participate in the study. A standard questionnaire was administered. Blood and vaginal or urethral specimens were taken and investigated for STI causative agents.


Among a total of 199 studied adolescents and youth 22.6 % were teenagers, with fewer females 17.8% than males; 27.5% (p < 0.018). 20.8% of the females compared to 11.5% in males were HIV infected. Genital discharge was the most common complaint which was reported in 54.1% of male and 63.4 % of female patients. All males with gonorrhoea and four out of five with Chlamydia were given appropriate treatment with syndromic management, while 28% women with gonorrhoea or Chlamydia received appropriate treatment by syndromic management. All patients found with active syphilis by serology had not complained of genital ulcers and would not have been assigned to syndromic treatment for syphilis at the initial visit.


The burden of STIs in this youth population is large indicating that youth are at increased risk of STIs and will certainly require youth friendly clinics. There is a need to refine the current syndromic management guidelines.