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East Afr Med J. 1998 Apr; 75(4): 232-6.

Health-seeking behaviour of patients with sexually transmitted diseases in Zambia.

Faxelid E, Ahlberg BM, Ndulo J, Krantz I.

Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.

The aim of this paper is to describe health-seeking behaviour, time with symptoms and sexual activity during symptom period among patients attending the public health sector in urban and rural Zambia for treatment of an STD. The study was conducted at two urban health centres and at one rural mission hospital during four months in 1994 and 1995. Four hundred and seventy nine patients seeking health care for STD symptoms were interviewed. The patients had experienced STD symptoms for one to two weeks before they came to the clinic. During this period two thirds in the urban and one third in the rural setting had had sex. Sixty per cent of the patients in the urban and 50% in the rural setting had taken some kind of medicine before they came to the clinic. More people had used modern compared to traditional medicine, especially in the urban area. Market places, other clinics and doctors, friends, and relatives were common treatment sources. Ten per cent had received medicine from a traditional healer. Thus, a majority of the patients had received medication from other sources before they came to the clinic. Sex during periods with STD symptoms was common. This has serious implications for STD as well as HIV transmission.

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