Rapid increase of both HIV-1 infection and syphilis among pregnant women in Nairobi, Kenya.

Document Type



Obstetrics and Gynaecology (East Africa)



To determine the prevalence of HIV-1 and syphilis antibodies in a population of pregnant women in Nairobi, Kenya, between 1989 and 1991.


As part of an ongoing prospective study on the effect of HIV-1 infection and sexually transmitted diseases, 4883 pregnant women were screened for HIV-1 and syphilis antibodies in one health-centre in Nairobi.


HIV-1 seroprevalence increased from 6.5 to 13.0% (P < 0.001) and syphilis seroreactivity from 2.9 to 5.3% (P = 0.002), while there was no change in gonococcal infection rates. The most rapid increase in HIV-1 prevalence was observed in women aged less than 25 years. There was no evidence of demographic fluctuations in the population during this time, or of changes in sexual behaviour, except that fewer women enrolled in 1991 reported having more than one sex partner, compared with women enrolled in 1989 (39.1 versus 20.0%; P = 0.0001). HIV-1-seropositive women were more likely to be seroreactive for syphilis than HIV-1-seronegative mothers (7.7 versus 3.2%; odds ratio = 2.5; 95% confidence interval, 1.7-3.8; P < 0.001), but there was no difference between the two groups in terms of gonorrhoea prevalence.


These data confirm an association between HIV-1 and syphilis infection, and indicate that both are spreading rapidly among women in Nairobi outside high-risk groups. Increased efforts to control both infections are urgently required.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.


AIDS (London, England),