Sexually Transmitted Diseases

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Sexually Transmitted Diseases:

Vaginal Douching, Condom Use, and Sexually Transmitted Infections Among Chinese Female Sex Workers

Wang, Bo PhD*; Li, Xiaoming PhD*; Stanton, Bonita MD*; Yang, Hongmei PhD*; Fang, Xiaoyi PhD†; Zhao, Ran PhD†; Dong, Baiqing MD‡; Zhou, Yuejiao MD‡; Liu, Wei MD‡; Liang, Shaoling MD‡

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Background and Objective: Vaginal douching has been hypothesized to increase a woman's risk for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. However, data on the prevalence of this practice and its association with condom use and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are limited.

Study: A cross-sectional survey among 454 female sex workers (FSWs) in a Chinese county.

Results: Vaginal douching was reported by 64.7% of the women. The prevalence of self-reported history of STI and that of current STI was 19.4% and 41.5%, respectively. Fifteen percent of the women reported consistent use of condoms with their clients and 8.4% with their regular partners. Vaginal douching was significantly associated with decreased use of condoms (with clients: OR = 0.31; with regular partner(s): OR = 0.22) and increased rate of self-reported STI history (OR = 1.95). However, there was no direct relation between douching and current STI. Over one third of the women believed that douching can prevent STI/HIV.

Conclusion: Vaginal douching exposes FSWs to a high risk of STI/HIV. Medical professional and public health workers should correct women's misconception about the effectiveness of douching and discourage women from douching through educational activities.

© Copyright 2005 American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association


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