Trichomonas vaginalis infection is uncommon in the British general population: Implications for clinical testing and public health screening

Nigel Field*, Soazig Clifton, Sarah Alexander, Catherine Ison, Rumena Khanom, Pamela Saunders, Gwenda Hughes, Laura Heath, Simon Beddows, Catherine H. Mercer, Clare Tanton, Anne M. Johnson, Pam Sonnenberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction Variable use of new molecular assays, asymptomatic infections and a lack of population data mean that the population burden of Trichomonas vaginalis is uncertain. We investigated the age-specific prevalence of T. vaginalis within the sexually active British general population to inform testing strategies. Methods Britain’s third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyle (Natsal-3) is a probability sample survey of 15 162 individuals aged 16–74 years, undertaken during 2010–2012. Urine from 4386 participants aged 16–44 years reporting ≥1 lifetime sexual partner was tested for T. vaginalis using in-house real-time PCR. Results Urinary T. vaginalis was detected in seven women and no men providing urine samples, giving a weighted prevalence estimate of 0.3% (95% CI 0.1% to 0.5%) in sexually experienced women aged 16–44 years. Of the seven women with T. vaginalis detected, four were of black or mixed ethnicity (prevalence 2.7% (0.9% to 7.7%) in this group) and five reported recent partners of black or mixed ethnicity. Six of the women reported symptoms, and five reported sexual health clinic attendance in the past 5 years (prevalence in those reporting clinic attendance: 1.0% (0.4% to 2.3%)). The prevalence of a self-reported history of T. vaginalis (past 5 years) was 0.1% (0.0% to 0.2%) in women and 0.0% (0.0% to 0.2%) in men aged 16–44 years. Conclusions Our British population prevalence estimates indicate that T. vaginalis is a rare infection. These data support policies that restrict asymptomatic screening for T. vaginalis and suggest deployment of molecular tests should be focused within clinical settings and guided by symptoms and local demography.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-229
Number of pages4
JournalSexually Transmitted Infections
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sept 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The study was supported by grants from the Medical Research Council (G0701757) and the Wellcome Trust (084840), with contributions from the Economic and Social Research Council and Department of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2012 BioMed Central Ltd.. All rights reserved.


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