Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 92–98 | Cite as

Syphilis Infection Among Female Sex Workers in Colombia

  • Alfredo Mejia
  • Christian T. BautistaEmail author
  • Luis Leal
  • Claudia Ayala
  • Franklyn Prieto
  • Fernando de la Hoz
  • Martha L. Alzate
  • Jacqueline Acosta
  • Jose L. Sanchez
Original paper


Objective To study the epidemiology of Treponema pallidum (syphilis) among female sex workers (FSW) in Santa Fe de Bogotá, Colombia. Design A cross-sectional study was conducted. Participants were interviewed using a standardized questionnaire, which collected socio-demographic characteristics and risk behavior information. Blood samples were screened for syphilis using the VDRL test and the MHATP assay. Results The prevalence of syphilis was 10.3% (53/514). Adjusted risk factors significantly associated with syphilis were: age (linear increase), education (primary or no education), monthly income (<US$ 180), time in sex work (≥4 years), number of clients per week (≥22), main workplace (street), inconsistent (never) condom use in sex work, previous STI history, and use of illegal drugs. Conclusions Effective health education programs for improving the level of knowledge of STI and the promotion of consistent condom use activities along with other appropriate harm reduction activities are urgently required among FSW in Colombia.


Syphilis Prevalence Sex work FSW Colombia Latin America 



We would like to thank all the laboratory personnel at the Liga Colombiana de Lucha contra el SIDA, and at the Instituto Nacional de Salud for their time and effort in this study and Sebastian A. for his technical assistance. Christian T. Bautista (present affiliation: U.S. Military HIV Research Program at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Rockville, Maryland, USA, E-mail:


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alfredo Mejia
    • 1
  • Christian T. Bautista
    • 2
    Email author
  • Luis Leal
    • 3
  • Claudia Ayala
    • 3
  • Franklyn Prieto
    • 1
  • Fernando de la Hoz
    • 1
  • Martha L. Alzate
    • 3
  • Jacqueline Acosta
    • 1
  • Jose L. Sanchez
    • 4
  1. 1.Instituto Nacional de Salud Santa Fe de BogotaColombia
  2. 2.Asociación Benéfica PRISMALimaPeru
  3. 3.Liga Colombiana de Lucha Contra el SIDA Santa Fe de BogotaColombia
  4. 4.Department of Defense Global Emerging Infections Surveillance and Response SystemSilver SpringUSA

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