Prevalence of Chlamydia trachomatis infection in the general population of women in Qatar
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Objectives The Arabian Gulf region has limited epidemiological data related to sexually transmitted infections. The objective of this study was to estimate the prevalence of Chlamydia trachomatis infection among general population women in Doha, Qatar. Methods Endocervical swabs were collected from healthy women attending primary healthcare centres in Doha, June–December 2008. The specimens were tested for C trachomatis by a commercially available PCR-based assay. Data on basic socio-demographic characteristics, medical history and sexual behaviour were obtained using self-administered questionnaires. The prevalence of C trachomatis and of background variables were stratified by nationality, Qatari nationals versus non-Qatari residents. Results A total of 377 women were enrolled in the study, out of whom 351 (37.9% Qataris, 62.1% non- Qataris) were tested for the presence of C trachomatis in their specimens. The mean age of participants was 41.2 years, and the vast majority (93%, 95% CI 90.3 to 95.7) were married. The mean age at sexual debut was significantly lower among Qatari women compared with non-Qatari women (19.2 vs 22.2 years, respectively p<0.001), but the mean number of reported lifetime sexual partners (1.1 partner) was nearly the same in both groups (p=0.110). The prevalence of C trachomatis infection was 5.3% among Qatari women and 5.5% among non-Qatari women, with no statistically significant difference between both groups ( p=0.923). Conclusions The prevalence of C trachomatis among women was higher than expected, with no significant difference between Qatari nationals and expatriate residents. The higher prevalence may reflect, in part, the limited access to and use of chlamydia screening and management.