Syphilis and HIV infections among pregnant women attending antenatal clinics in Republic of Congo
Introduction: HIV and syphilis during pregnancy remain a public health concern especially in developing countries. Pregnant women attending
antenatal clinics sites for the first time between September and December 2011 and who accepted to participate in the study were enrolled. The
objective was to estimate the syphilis and HIV infection rate in this population.
Methods: A study was conducted in 44 selected ANCs from 12 departments (5 urban and 7 rural). Pregnant women who accepted to participate in the study, attending selected sentinel ANCs sites for the first time between September and December 2011 were enrolled. To detect HIV antibodies, two consecutive ELISA assays were used (Genscreen Ultra HIV Ag/Ac, (BioRad, France) and Enzygnostic Intergral II (Siemens, GMBH, Marbug-Germany). In case of discordant results, the Western blot test II, HIV1 and 2 (Bio-Rad, Marne la Coquette, France) was used as the reference method. The RPR (Bio-Scan, Karnataka, India) test was performed to detect syphilis infection. The RPR positive results were confirmed using the TPHA test (Biotech, Cambridge, UK). Data were analyzed using SPSS 17.0 software.
Results: A total of 2979 pregnant women attending ANCs were enrolled. The global HIV infection rate was estimated to be 3.6% (CI: 95%; 3.0-4.4). As expected, HIV prevalence was significantly higher in women aged above 25 years (4.4% (3.4-5.6), p = 0.026) and those attending urban ANCs (5.04%, p < 0.01). Also, women living in the urban area are more at risk to be infected (5.04 VS 2.38, p < 0.01). The RPR test was positive in 117 pregnant women (3.92%). The risk for syphilis occurrence was significantly higher among the single women compared to the married ones (4.4% VS 2.7%; p < 0.01). It was also estimated that the HIV and syphilis coinfection occurred in 22 cases (0.73%).
Conclusion: The prevalence's of syphilis and HIV were relatively low. Marital status and sentinel site location were a risk factor associated with
HIV and syphilis infections respectively. Therefore, substantial effort is needed to reinforce prevention strategies in this population to prevent
mother-to-child and further horizontal transmissions of these infections.
Key words: HIV, syphilis, pregnant women, Republic of Congo (RoC)