31.2.3  Epidemiology of STIs in Ethiopia

There is little information on the incidence and prevalence of STIs in Ethiopia. The prevalence of HIV has been mentioned in Study Session 20 and that of syphilis is thought to be about 2.7% (FMOH, 2006). There is no actual information or estimate on other STIs in Ethiopia. This is because reports often under-represent the true number of people infected with STIs. As you can imagine the reasons are many, but a major contributing factor is that people with STIs who have minor or no symptoms do not seek treatment at public health facilities. They usually tend to take self-prescribed drugs or go to private pharmacies to buy treatment without consulting trained health workers.

Another contributing factor to the lack of information on STIs is also irregular access to treatment; that is health facilities offering treatment for STIs may be too far away from clients who present with STIs. Stigma associated with attending public STI clinics is also a factor in that clients tend to shy away from being seen at STI clinics. As noted above, many patients may then choose to go to alternative providers like pharmacies and traditional healers that do not report formally to the Federal Ministry of Health.

The formal public health facilities also do not report all STI cases properly and comprehensively for data to be compiled nationally. Last but not least some patients also do not attend formal STI clinics due to economic factors and they would rather go to traditional healers that provide services for free or with cheap costs.

31.2.2  Risk factors for STIs

31.3  Presentation of common STIs