Background: Adolescents are a high risk population for STIs, and little is known about behavior in Latin American populations. Objectives:
- To compare and contrast knowledge about STIs among adolescents of six Latin American countries.
- To determine risk perception of STIs transmission on behalf of care observed in sexual behavior
Methods: We conducted a prospective cross-sectional study in 6000 schooled adolescents aged 14 to 21, from Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela,(1000 by country), using self-answered surveys. The poll was approved by the Bioethics Committee of Universidad del Rosario de Bogota. Confidentiality was guaranteed. Data were processed using SPSS V.12. Analysis of frequencies and percentages were used for the description of qualitative variables; central tendency and dispersion measures were calculated for quantitative variables. We used, Independence Tests, Student´s test, Variance Analysis and Scheffe´s tests. Population: Average age is 16.76. Distribution by sex: 44% males, 56% females.
Results: 47.5% had had sexual intercourse; average age was 15.5, with differences among countries. Contraceptive use varied by country, being condoms the most frequent (consistent and correct use of condom was found in 20% of sexually active adolescents). 73.9 % were concerned about the contagion of STIs. 63,1% were concerned about pregnancy. Knowledge about STIs was near 90% for HIV and below 50% for others. School was the main source of information. No mention about after morning pill or mother to child transmission of STIs as part of the knowledge on the items investigated
Conclusions: Statistical analyses let us conclude that there is high perception of knowledge on STIs in relation to the evidence of care used in sexual activity (Occasional use of condom),concern about pregnancy or STIs transmission is not reflected on the sexual care observed. Adolescents remain at high risk for STIs in the population of the six countries analyzed.