Patterns of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIS) Reported among Students in a Federal University in Midwestern Nigeria

Article excerpt

The study analysed the patterns of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) among students in a Nigerian University. It is a retrospective study of 38,933 students who attended the University Health Centre from 2001 to 2005. The results showed that 1.8% of all the students who attended the clinic had STIs. The study also revealed that 85.26% of the students with STIs had candidiasis, affecting more of female students. Male students presented more with syphilis (2.43%) and gonorrhoea (2.01%). Also students of age group 21-30 years representing 44.49% were more affected with STIs due to the fact that this is the sexually active age group in keeping with reported cases worldwide.

**********

Globally, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) have reportedly reached an alarming prevalence in several countries especially in sub-Saharan Africa. More than 20 STIs have been identified by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (2003). Some of the bacterial infections are venereal syphilis, gonorrhoea, chancre, candidiasis, trichomoniasis, non-gonococcal urethritis and some others. The data on the incidence and prevalence of STIs in Nigeria are limited. This is as a result of underreporting of STIs which is attributable to inadequate diagnostic and treatment facilities, especially in the rural areas, asymptomatic episodes, the stigma of having an STI, limited access to health care facilities. The use of traditional healers and self-treatment with antibiotics among those contracting STIs further increase the extent of under-reporting and ineffective treatment (Green. 1992a).

The Federal Ministry of Health and Social Services (1996) reported the National average prevalence rates for the various STIs such as Non-gonococcal Urethritis (NGU) as 26.3%; post-pubertal gonorrhoea, 18.03%; trichomoniasis, 9.8%; candidiasis 9.62%; chancroid, 4.28% and primary syphilis, 2.2%. In a Technical Report (2001) the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) in a survey conducted in 2000 reported higher rates of STIs of 11.5%.

The incidence and prevalence of STIs has been reported more among adolescents. It is estimated that of the more than 15 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections diagnosed each year in the U.S. (Cates, 1999), approximately one-fourth of these new infections occur among teenagers (CDC, 2000a). By age 24, one in three sexually active people will have contracted an ST1 (KFF. 1998b). Many of these young people suffer long-term health problems as a consequence of their infection.

The University Community is constituted by mainly youths. The practices of having sex with older partners, having sex with non-steady partners and unprotected sex are common practices among university students. This group of people engage more in sex experimentation, casual and unprotected sex. In a study of 1000 young students in tertiary institutions in Nigeria, Araoye (1994) reported that casual sex was more than five times common in males than in females. Some female students engage in casual sex because of the desire for material possession and sometimes unprotected as this is more paid for. This behaviour has led to the spread of STIs in tertiary institutions in Nigeria especially as some of these infections are asymptomatic. In order to develop an effective school based prevention education programmes for the control of STIs in the University Community, it is paramount to identifying the commonly reported STIs and their patterns of distribution among male and female students. This study therefore sought to achieve the following objectives:

1. To find out the commonly reported cases of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) among students (2001-2005)

2. To ascertain the differences in the distribution of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) among male and female students

3. To determine the sex ratio of students with Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) attended to at the University Health Centre (2001-2005)

4. …