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OBJECTIVE--To describe risk behaviours for infection with HIV in male sexual partners of female prostitutes. DESIGN--A cross sectional study. SETTING--Genitourinary medicine clinic, St Mary's Hospital, London. SUBJECTS--112 self identified male sexual partners of female prostitutes: 101 who reported commercial sexual relationships only, five who reported non-commercial relationships only, and six who reported both commercial and non-commercial relationships. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Reported risk behaviours for infection with HIV. RESULTS--Of the 40 men who had had previous HIV tests or were tested during the study, two (5%) were infected with HIV. Of the men who would answer the questions, 34/94 reported having sex with other men, 2/105 reported using injected drugs, 8/105 had a history of blood transfusion, 14/108 reported a past history of gonorrhoea, 44/102 reported paying for sex abroad, and 8/92 said that they had also been paid for sex. Of the 55 men who reported paying for vaginal intercourse in the past year, 45 (82%) said that they had always used a condom. In contrast, of the 11 non-paying partners of prostitutes, only two (18%) reported ever using a condom with their partners. CONCLUSIONS--Men who have sex with female prostitutes cannot be assumed to be at risk of infection with HIV only by this route: homosexual contact may place them at greater risk. Despite the heterogeneity among male sexual partners of prostitutes, patterns of use of condoms were uniform when they were considered as a reflection of the type of relationship a man had with a female prostitute rather than a consequence of an individual's level of risk.