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Prevalence of and risk factors for syphilis in Brazilian armed forces conscripts
  1. Denis Ribeiro1,2,
  2. Erika Fazito Rezende1,
  3. Valdir Monteiro Pinto1,2,
  4. Gerson Fernando Mendes Pereira1,
  5. Angélica Espinosa Miranda2
  1. 1STD/AIDS and Viral Hepatitis Department, Ministry of Health, Brasília, Brazil
  2. 2Infectious Diseases Unit, Federal University of Espírito Santo, Vitória, Brazil
  1. Correspondence to Dr Angélica Espinosa Miranda, Av. Marechal Campos, 1468 – Vitoria – ES – 29100-240, Brazil; espinosa{at}


Objective The aim of this study was to describe the prevalence of syphilis by geographical region and the frequency of behaviours and symptoms related to sexually transmitted diseases (STD).

Methods A cross-sectional study was performed with Brazilian conscripts in 2007. They answered a self-administered questionnaire on demographic issues, sexual practices, condom use and STD symptoms. They had a blood sample collected for a syphilis test.

Results A total of 35 460 conscripts answered the questionnaire and 75.5% reported previous sexual intercourse. Overall syphilis prevalence was 0.53% (95% CI 0.45% to 0.61%). By geographical region: northern (0.85%), northeast (0.82%), midwest (0.49%), southeast (0.34%) and southern region (0.26%). The final logistic regression model showed an association among having had syphilis and being 17 years old (OR 1.3; 95% CI 1.05 to 1.73), having up to 8 years of schooling (OR 1.5; 95% CI 1.03 to 2.22), living in the northern/northeast region (OR 1.2; 95% CI 1.04 to 1.36), being men who have sex with men (OR 4.5; 95% CI 2.59 to 7.81), reporting a previous history of STD (OR 2.7; 95% CI 1.03 to 6.99) and genital ulcers (OR 2.6; 95% CI 1.59 to 4.26).

Conclusions Addressing young people at the time of military enlistment may be a good time to consider new strategies for accessing and counselling this population, thus allowing the implementation of a more appropriate healthcare policy.

  • Behaviours
  • conscripts
  • epidemiology
  • prevalence
  • STD
  • symptoms
  • syphilis
  • vulvovaginitis

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  • Funding The Brazilian Ministry of Health provided funding for this study.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was received from the Brazilian National Research Ethics Committee (report no 589/2006).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.