Background: Sexually transmitted diseases are a major public health problem. Condoms are the main preventive intervention available, and the perception of vulnerability is an important determination of its use. The goal of the study was evaluate the association between condom use and perception of vulnerability to STDs/AIDS among women in a medium size southern Brazilian city. We also evaluated time trends over a 13 years interval.
Methods: We compared the findings of two cross-sectional population based surveys performed in 1999 and 2012. Information on of condom use in the last intercourse (yes, no) was obtained using a self-applied confidential questionnaire; information about perception of vulnerability (very probable, probable, barely probable, almost impossible and impossible) was collected through structured interviews.
Results: 1543 women were interviewed in 1999 and 1071 in 2012. The prevalence of condom use increased from 28% in 1999 to 36% in 2012 (P value<0,001). There were no significant differences between perceptions of vulnerability comparing the two studies (P value=0,058). In both studies, condom use varied significantly according to perception of vulnerability. In 1999, the highest frequency of condom use (42,6%) occurred among women who believed that it was very probable that they might acquire STDs/HIV. In 2012, this situation changed and the highest frequency of condom use (42,2) was among women who believed that it was impossible for them to get infected by STDs/HIV.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that over a 13 year period, condom use is being incorporated as a general primary preventive measure, making women feel less vulnerable to STDs/AIDS.