Background: Previous studies have observed high prevalences of Trichomonas vaginalis infection among women entering US jails and state prisons (22%–47%). We sought to determine the prevalence among women incarcerated in 2 US female-only federal prisons.
Methods: Female inmates were recruited at 2 prisons (n = 624). Participants completed a self-administered questionnaire and provided self-collected first-catch urine and vaginal swab specimens. Specimens were tested for T. vaginalis DNA.
Results: Approximately 8.5% of participants at the first prison, and 8.3% at the second prison had a positive urine result, vaginal swab result or both, for a combined prevalence of 8.5%. Using positivity in either specimen as the reference standard, urine polymerase chain reaction had a sensitivity of 66.7% and vaginal swab polymerase chain reaction had a sensitivity of 84.4%. The only significant positive correlate of T. vaginalis infection was lower household income before arrest. Other variables nonsignificantly positively correlated with T. vaginalis 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.
Conclusions: Although not as high as in other studies of women entering US jails and state prisons, our observed T. vaginalis prevalence of 8.5% was much higher than in the general US population. Therefore, screening for T. vaginalis infection may be warranted at federal prison entry, as well as sexual health education during prison stay.