Previous studies have noted Trichomonas vaginalis prevalence rates of 22 percent to 47 percent among women entering U.S. jails and state prisons. The authors of the current report sought to determine prevalence of the STD among inmates in two female-only federal prisons in the United States.
At the two facilities, 624 women were recruited and completed a self-administered questionnaire. Self-collected specimens, first-catch urine sample and vaginal swab, were tested for T. vaginalis DNA.
A positive urine result or vaginal swab result or both were noted for 8.5 percent of participants at one prison and 8.3 percent of participants at the other; combined prevalence was 8.5 percent. With positivity in either specimen as the reference standard, urine polymerase chain reaction had a sensitivity of 66.7 percent; vaginal swab PCR had a sensitivity of 84.4 percent.
Lower household income before arrest was found to be the only significant positive correlate of T. vaginalis infection. Other factors with nonsignificant positive correlation to T. vaginalis infection were being employed at the time of arrest; having experienced sexual, physical or emotional abuse by a family member; having a parent who had not had a drug or alcohol addiction; never exchanging sex for money or drugs; ever being pregnant; having abnormal vaginal bleeding/spotting; and having concurrent chlamydia or gonorrhea.
"Although not as high as in other studies of women entering U.S. jails and state prisons, our observed T. vaginalis prevalence of 8.5 percent was much higher than in the general U.S. population," the authors concluded. "Therefore, screening for T. vaginalis infection may be warranted at federal prison entry, as well as sexual health education during prison stay."