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Revista de Saúde Pública

Print version ISSN 0034-8910On-line version ISSN 1518-8787


SILVEIRA, Mariângela F; BERIA, Jorge U; HORTA, Bernardo L  and  TOMASI, Elaine. Self-assessment of STD/AIDS vulnerability among women, Brazil. Rev. Saúde Pública [online]. 2002, vol.36, n.6, pp.670-677. ISSN 0034-8910.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate risk behaviors and self-assessment of the vulnerability to sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) among women. METHODS: A systematic sample including 48 of 281 census tracts in the urban area of Pelotas, Brazil, was selected. There were interviewed 1,543 women, aged between 15 and 49 years, who had ever been sexually active. Risk behaviors were assessed using a confidential questionnaire that consisted of three sections: socioeconomic profile, interviewers' and self-administered questions. Data analysis was conducted using Epi-Info software, version 6.0. Statistical analysis was carried out using Kappa test and odds ratio. RESULTS: Of all women in the sample, 64% considered impossible or almost impossible for them to acquire an STD or AIDS. The main risk behaviors were non-use of condoms in their last intercourse (72%); onset of sexual activity before age 18 years (47%); drug or alcohol use by the partner (14%) or the woman (7%) before their last intercourse; two or more partners in the last three months (7%); and anal sex in the last intercourse (3%); 44% reported two or more risk behaviors. Using a risk score of two or more points as the gold standard, sensitivity and specificity of self-assessment were 41% and 67%, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Self-assessment of vulnerability is not an adequate indicator of STD and AIDS vulnerability since women do not have an appropriate perception of their risks.

Keywords : Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome [epidemiology]; Knowledge, attitudes, practice; Perception; Women; Risk-taking; Sex behavior; Risk factors; Sexually transmitted diseases; Women's health.

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