Socio-demographic characteristics associated with HIV and syphilis seroreactivity among pregnant women in Blantyre, Malawi, 2000-2004

  • JJ Kwiek
  • V Mwapasa
  • AP Alker
  • AS Muula
  • HE Misiri
  • ME Molyneux
  • SJ Rogerson
  • FM Behets
  • SR Meshnick


Objectives: We aimed to evaluate socio-demographic factors associated with HIV and syphilis seroreactivity in pregnant Malawians presenting for antenatal care in late third trimester of pregnancy. Methods: Between December 2000 and March 2004 at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital Blantyre, Malawi, we collected cross-sectional clinical and socioeconomic data from consenting women. HIV-1 status was determined using rapid HIV antibody tests and syphilis seroreactivity was determined using Rapid Plasma Reagin (RPR) and confirmed with Treponema pallidum hemagglutination assay (TPHA). Results: Of 3,824 women screened for HIV, 1156 (30%) were HIV seropositive and 198 (5%) were RPR and TPHA seroreactive. In the multivariate analysis, HIV infection was positively associated with elevated socio-economic status, being formerly married, and age, but not with education level. HIV prevalence was lower in women of Yao ethnicity than in other women (OR: 0.78, 95%CI: 0.64 - 0.95). Increased maternal education was negatively associated with syphilis seroreactivity. Conclusions: The seroprevalence of HIV and syphilis among women attending the antenatal ward in Blantyre remains unacceptably high. Demographic correlates of HIV and syphilis infections were different. Our results demonstrate the need for better strategies to prevent HIV and syphilis in women and calls for optimizing antenatal syphilis screening and treatment in Malawi.

Malawi Medical Journal Vol. 20 (3) 2008: pp. 80-85

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eISSN: 1995-7262
print ISSN: 1995-7262