Background: Despite evidence that education and poverty act through distinct pathways to influence sexually transmitted infection (STI), few studies have examined the unique, independent associations of these socioeconomic vulnerabilities with sexual risk behaviors and STI among women.
Methods: From August to October 2013, women at an antenatal clinic in Gressier, Haiti, were interviewed and tested for chlamydial infection, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis (N = 200). We measured low educational attainment as less than 9 years of schooling and currently living in poverty based on crowding, defined as more than 2 people sleeping in one room. We used logistic regression to estimate independent associations between each socioeconomic indicator and outcomes of sexual behaviors and STI.
Results: Approximately 29% of the sample had a current STI (chlamydia, 8.0%; gonorrhea, 3.0%; trichomoniasis, 20.5%), with 2.5% testing positive for more than 1 STI. Forty percent of the sample reported low educational attainment and 40% reported current poverty. Low educational attainment was associated with early risk behaviors, including twice the odds of earlier sexual debut (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 2.09; 95% confidence interval [CI],: 1.14-3.84). Poverty was associated with reporting the current main sexual partner to be nonmonogamous (AOR, 2.01; 95% CI, 1.00-4.01) and current STI (AOR, 2.50; 95% CI, 1.26-4.98).
Conclusions: Education and poverty seem to independently influence STI behaviors and infection, with low education associated with early sexual risk and poverty associated with current risk and infection. Improving women's educational attainment may be important in improving risk awareness, thereby reducing risky sexual behaviors and preventing a trajectory of STI risk.