Introduction A million people every day worldwide contract a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI). In Brazil, studies show that rural living presents adverse conditions and promotes life behaviours that favour the acquisition of such diseases. The objective of this investigation was to estimate the prevalence of symptomatic STIs and to analyse the risk behaviours for these infections among rural settlers from the southwest of Goiás, Central Brazil.
Methods This is an observational, analytical and cross-sectional study. From May to June 2011, 395 individuals aged 12 years or older living in settlements in southwestern Goiás, Central Brazil, were recruited. All participants were interviewed by means of a structured questionnaire, containing questions about sociodemographic data and risk behaviours for STIs. The outcome variable was the clinical presentation of one of the following STI symptoms over the previous 12 months: vaginal discharge, urethral discharge, genital ulcers, pelvic inflammatory disease, and anogenital warts. The study was approved by the Research Ethics Committee of the Federal University of Goiás.
Results Of the total, 51.6% were male, 39.5% were aged between 12 and 40 years, and 42.5% had 4 or fewer years of study. The majority were married (68.4%), from Goiás (79%), and were Catholic (51.9%). The prevalence for symptomatic STIs among the settlers was 20.5%. It was observed that being male (adjusted OR: 0.17, p=0.00), drinking alcohol (adjusted OR: 1.75, p=0.05), and life history in rural encampment. (adjusted OR: 2.78, p=0.00) were variables associated with STIs.
Conclusion The results support the need for effective strategies for prevention and control of STIs among the rural population, especially settlers, a population with significant potential in the chain of transmission of sexual infections. Health education and rapid testing for STIs should be implemented for individuals of rural encampment in Brazil.