Review Article

A review on Trichomonas vaginalis infections in women from Africa

Nonkululeko Mabaso, Nathlee S. Abbai
Southern African Journal of Infectious Diseases | Vol 36, No 1 | a254 | DOI: | © Nonkululeko Mabaso, Nathlee S. Abbai | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 October 2020 | Published: 10 June 2021

About the author(s)

Nonkululeko Mabaso, School of Clinical Medicine, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Nathlee S. Abbai, School of Clinical Medicine, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


Background: Trichomoniasis is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) with an estimated annual incidence of 276.4 million cases globally and about 30 million cases in sub-Saharan Africa. Trichomoniasis has been found to be associated with various health complications including pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), significant pregnancy complications, cervical cancer, prostatitis, infertility and the acquisition of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Aim: Despite being a highly prevalent infection in the African continent, there is no review article published that solely focusses on Trichomonas vaginalis (T. vaginalis) infections in women from Africa. This review aims to fill this gap in the literature.

Method: An electronic search of online databases was used to identify and extract relevant research articles related to the epidemiology, health complications and treatment associated with T. vaginalis in women from Africa.

Results: Within the African continent, South Africa has reported the highest prevalence rate for this infection. A combination of sociodemographic, behavioural and biological factors has been shown to be associated with infection. Trichomonas vaginalis infection is associated with the acquisition of HIV, cervical cancer and PIDs in various female populations across the continent. Emerging patterns of resistance to metronidazole have been reported in women from South Africa. Currently, there is no effective vaccine against this pathogen despite efforts at vaccine development.

Conclusion: Based on the high prevalence and health consequences associated with T. vaginalis, there is a need for improved screening programmes that will lead to early diagnosis, detection of asymptomatic infections and effective treatment regimens.


Trichomonas vaginalis; Africa; epidemiology; drug resistance; health complications


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