oa Southern African Journal of Epidemiology and Infection - Schistosomiasis and water-related practices in school girls in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa : original research

Volume 25, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1015-8782
  • E-ISSN: 2220-1084



There is increasing evidence of an association between female genital infection and HIV. In KwaZulu-Natal, we aimed to explore girls' water contact practice and to determine whether a study exclusively on girls would be manageable and welcomed. Three primary schools that had participated in a parasite control programme eight years prior were approached. Subject to consent, girls aged 9 to 12 years were interviewed on water-body contact, symptoms and household composition. Urine samples were analysed for infection eggs. Good dialogue was achieved in all schools and 95% consented to participation; 43% had an infection, geometric mean intensity 10.5 ova per 10 ml urine. Only 12% had ever been treated for . Water-body contact was significantly associated with (OR 2.8, 95% CI 1.3-5.9, p= 0.008); however, was also found in 20% of girls who claimed to never have had water-body contact. Sixty-four percent thought they had no choice but to use unprotected water; 21% had no mother in the household, and being an orphan increased the risk of having . The community welcomed the study. Prevalence levels in South Africa are so high that some communities are eligible for WHO-recommended regular mass treatment.

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