Background:Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are a serious public health problem in developing countries, including Ethiopia. Syphilis caused by Treponema pallidumremains a major cause of reproductive morbidity and poor pregnancy outcomes in developing countries. Stillbirth, perinatal death, serious neonatal infection and low-birth weight babies are attributed from syphilis seropositive mothers. Therefore, for better understand the syphilis epidemiology among pregnant women in Ethiopia; the seroprevalence of syphilis and risk factor correlates was assessed.
Methods: The study was done on 2385 pregnant women attending antenatal care clinic (ANC) at Gondar, Northwest Ethiopia, from January 2009 to December 2011. After obtaining a written informed consent sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of each study participant was collected using structured questionnaires. All study participants were screened serologically for syphilis infection. Data were analysed by SPSS version 16. A descriptive analysis was used to determine demographic characteristics of the study participants. Chi-square test was employed to examine possible risk factors for syphilis infection and significance levels were chosen at 0.05 level with a two-tailed test.
Results: Of the total, 69(2. 9%) were confirmed as seropositive for syphilis. Pregnant women with an age group of 21-25 years of old were the most seropositive (3.4%), followed by 26-30years of old (3.1%). The prevalence of syphilis infection was 3.2% in urban and 2.2% in rural pregnant women. Relatively high prevalence of syphilis infection were identified among students (4.2%) followed by governmental employee (3.8%).
Conclusions: The study indicated that the prevalence of syphilis among pregnant women attending ANC is declining. However, relatively syphilis is more prevalent in the young and urban pregnant women. Emphasis on education to young people on STI risk behavioral change and partner follow up and notification for exposure to syphilis and treatment should be given.