Molecular epidemiology and socio-demographic risk factors of sexually transmitted infections among women in Lebanon.BMC Infect Dis. 2020 May 27; 20(1):375.BI
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) cause a major public health problem that affect both men and women in developing and developed countries. The aim of the study was to estimate the prevalence of 11 STIs among women who voluntarily participated in the study, while seeking gynecological checkup. The existence of an association between the presence of pathogens and symptoms and various sociodemographic risk factors was assessed.
A total of 505 vaginal and cervical specimens were collected from women above 18 years of age, with or without symptoms related to gynecological infections. Nucleic acid was extracted and samples were tested by real-time PCR for the following pathogens: Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Mycoplasma genitalium, Ureaplasma urealyticum, Urealplasma parvum, Trichomonas vaginalis, Mycoplasma hominis, Mycoplasma girerdii, Gardnerella vaginalis, Candida albicans and Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Positive HPV samples underwent genotyping using a microarray system.
Of the 505 samples, 312 (62%) were screened positive for at least one pathogen. Of these, 36% were positive for Gardnerella vaginalis, 35% for Ureaplasma parvum, 8% for Candida albicans, 6.7% for HPV, 4.6% for Ureaplasma urealyticum, 3.6% for Mycoplasma hominis, 2% for Trichomonas vaginalis, 0.8% for Chlamydia trachomatis, 0.4% for Mycoplasma girerdii, 0.2% for Mycoplasma genitalium and 0.2% for Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Lack of symptoms was reported in 187 women (37%), among whom 61% were infected. Thirty-four samples were HPV positive, with 17 high risk HPV genotypes (HR-HPV); the highest rates being recorded for types 16 (38%), 18 (21%) and 51 (18%). Out of the 34 HPV positives, 29 participants had HR-HPV. Association with various risk factors were reported.
This is the first study that presents data about the presence of STIs among women in Lebanon and the MENA region by simultaneous detection of 11 pathogens. In the absence of systematic STI surveillance in Lebanon, concurrent screening for HPV and PAP smear is warranted.