Objective: To determine the incidence of sexually transmitted infections (STI) among decriminalised and regulated sex workers in Victoria.
Methods: The incidence of STI was calculated for individuals who attended the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre on more than one occasion. Results of initial screen specimens were not included. Follow up time was calculated in person months and used as the denominator with the number of "specified" STIs diagnosed over the study period as the numerator.
Results: Among 388 sex workers the incidence of chlamydia, Trichomonas vaginalis, genital warts, and herpes was 0.61, 0.11, 0.79, and 0.17, respectively, per 100 person months of follow up. The mean number of sexual non-paying private partners in the past 3 months was significantly greater among those with chlamydia (0.8 v 1.5, p<0.01) and any STI (0.7 v 1.2, p<0.05).
Conclusion: The incidence of STIs was low among decriminalised and regulated sex work and most infections were related to partners outside of work. Frequent screening of sex workers will reduce the chance of workers passing on an STI but is expensive. However, it may also discourage women from joining the sex work system and push them into an illegal system with a worse outcome.
The continued poor sexual and reproductive health (SRH) outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa highlight the difficulties in reforming policies and laws, and implementing effective programmes. This paper uses one international and two national case studies to reflect on the challenges, dilemmas and strategies used in operationalising sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in different African contexts.
The international case study focuses on the progress made by African countries in implementing the African Union’s Maputo Plan of Action (for the Operationalisation of the Continental Policy Framework for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights) and the experiences of state and non-state stakeholders in this process. The case was developed from an evaluation report of the progress made by nine African countries in implementing the Plan of Action, qualitative interviews exploring stakeholders’ experiences and perceptions of the operationalisation of the plan (carried out as part of the evaluation) in Botswana and Nigeria, and authors’ reflections. The first national case study explores the processes involved in influencing Ghana’s Domestic Violence Act passed in 2007; developed from a review of scientific papers and organisational publications on the processes involved in influencing the Act, qualitative interview data and authors’ reflections. The second national case study examines the experiences with introducing the 2006 Sexual Offences Act in Kenya, and it is developed from organisational publications on the processes of enacting the Act and a review of media reports on the debates and passing of the Act.
Based on the three cases, we argue that prohibitive laws and governments’ reluctance to institute and implement comprehensive rights approaches to SRH, lack of political leadership and commitment to funding SRHR policies and programmes, and dominant negative cultural framing of women’s issues present the major obstacles to operationalising SRH rights. Analysis of successes points to the strategies for tackling these challenges, which include forming and working through strategic coalitions, employing strategic framing of SRHR issues to counter opposition and gain support, collaborating with government, and employing strategic opportunism.
The strategies identified show future pathways through which challenges to the realisation of SRHR in Africa can be tackled.
Sex work is a criminal offence, virtually throughout Africa. This criminalisation and the intense stigma attached to the profession shapes interactions between sex workers and their clients, family, fellow community members, and societal structures such as the police and social services.
We explore the impact of violence and related human rights abuses on the lives of sex workers, and how they have responded to these conditions, as individuals and within small collectives. These analyses are based on data from 55 in-depth interviews and 12 focus group discussions with female, male and transgender sex workers in Kenya, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Data were collected by sex worker outreach workers trained to conduct qualitative research among their peers.
In describing their experiences of unlawful arrests and detention, violence, extortion, vilification and exclusions, participants present a picture of profound exploitation and repeated human rights violations. This situation has had an extreme impact on the physical, mental and social wellbeing of this population. Overall, the article details the multiple effects of sex work criminalisation on the everyday lives of sex workers and on their social interactions and relationships. Underlying their stories, however, are narratives of resilience and resistance. Sex workers in our study draw on their own individual survival strategies and informal forms of support and very occasionally opt to seek recourse through formal channels. They generally recognize the benefits of unified actions in assisting them to counter risks in their environment and mobilise against human rights violations, but note how the fluctuant and stigmatised nature of their profession often undermines collective action.
While criminal laws urgently need reform, supporting sex work self-organisation and community-building are key interim strategies for safeguarding sex workers’ human rights and improving health outcomes in these communities. If developed at sufficient scale and intensity, sex work organisations could play a critical role in reducing the present harms caused by criminalisation and stigma.
Sex work; Prostitution; Violence; Human rights; Resilience; Kenya; South Africa; Uganda; Zimbabwe
Sex work is receiving increased attention in southern Africa. In the context of South Africa's intense preparation for hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup, anxiety over HIV transmission in the context of sex work has sparked debate on the most appropriate legal response to this industry.
Drawing on existing literature, the authors highlight the increased vulnerability of sex workers in the context of the HIV pandemic in southern Africa. They argue that laws that criminalise sex work not only compound sex workers' individual risk for HIV, but also compromise broader public health goals. International sporting events are thought to increase demand for paid sex and, particularly in countries with hyper-endemic HIV such as South Africa, likely to foster increased HIV transmission through unprotected sex.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup presents a strategic opportunity for South Africa to respond to the challenges that the sex industry poses in a strategic and rights-based manner. Public health goals and growing evidence on HIV prevention suggest that sex work is best approached in a context where it is decriminalised and where sex workers are empowered. In short, the authors argue for a moratorium on the enforcement of laws that persecute and victimise sex workers during the World Cup period.
Important unanswered questions remain on the impact of international sporting events on the sex industry. Speculation about increased demand and supply of sex work often generates significant attention, but also additional funding for HIV programmes. This study assessed whether changes occurred in the demand and supply of paid sex during the 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa.
Trained sex worker interviewers conducted face-to-face semi-structured interviews among consenting female sex workers during May-September 2010. Using bivariate analyses we compared supply, demand, sexual risk-taking, and police and health services contact pre-World Cup, to levels during the World Cup and after the event.
No increases were detected in indicators of sex work supply, including the proportion of sex workers newly arrived in the city (< 2.5% in each phase) or those recently entering the trade (≤ 1.5%). Similarly, demand for sex work, indicated by median number of clients (around 12 per week) and amount charged per transaction ($13) remained similar in the three study periods. Only a third of participants reported observing any change in the sex industry ascribed to the World Cup. Self-reported condom-use with clients remained high across all samples (> 92.4% in all phases). Health-care utilisation decreased non-significantly from the pre- to during World Cup period (62.4% to 57.0%; P = 0.075). Across all periods, about thirty percent of participants had interacted with police in the preceding month, two thirds of whom had negative interactions.
Contrary to public opinion, no major increases were detected in the demand or supply of paid sex during the World Cup. Although the study design employed was unable to select population-based samples, these findings do not support the public concern and media speculation prior to the event, but rather signal a missed opportunity for public health action. Given the media attention on sex work, future sporting events offer strategic opportunities to implement services for sex workers and their clients, especially as health service utilisation might decrease in this period.
HIV; Sex work; Prostitution; Sport; South Africa
Objective: To compile a global typography of commercial sex work.
Methods: A Medline search and review of 681 "prostitution" articles was conducted. In addition, the investigators pooled their 20 years of collected papers and monographs, and their observations in more than 15 countries. Arbitrary categories were developed to compile a workable typology of sex work.
Results: At least 25 types of sex work were identified according to worksite, principal mode of soliciting clients, or sexual practices. These types of work are often grouped under the headings of "direct" and "indirect" prostitution, with the latter group less likely to be perceived or to perceive themselves as sex workers. In general, policing sex work can change its typology and location but its prevalence is rarely affected. The public health implications of sex work vary widely.
Conclusion: Developing comprehensive sexual health promotion programmes requires a complete understanding of the types of sex work in a particular area. This study provides a checklist for developing appropriate and targeted programmes.
The trafficking of women and girls for sexual exploitation is an internationally recognized form of gender-based violence, and is thought to confer unique sexual and reproductive health vulnerabilities. To date, little research has compared sexual risk or health outcomes among female sex workers (FSWs) based on experiences of sex trafficking. The current study sought to compare experiences of sexual risk and sexual and reproductive health outcomes among FSWs based on experiences of trafficking as an entry mechanism to FSW.
Data from a national sample of FSWs in Thailand (n=815) to was used to assess a) the prevalence of sex trafficking as an entry mechanism into FSW, and b) associations of sex trafficking with sexual risk and health outcomes.
Approximately 10% of FSWs met criteria for trafficking as an entry mechanism to sex work. Compared with their non-trafficked counterparts, sex trafficked FSWs were more likely to have experienced sexual violence at initiation to sex work (ARR 2.29, 95% CI 1.11, 4.72), recent workplace violence or mistreatment (ARR 1.38, 95% CI 1.13, 1.67), recent condom failure (ARR 1.80, 95% CI 1.15, 2.80), condom non-use (ARR 3.35, 95% CI 1.49, 7.52), and abortion (ARR 2.83, 95% CI 1.48, 5.39).
Both the prevalence of sex trafficking as an entry mechanism to FSW, coupled with the threats to sexual and reproductive health observed based on trafficking status, demonstrate the need for comprehensive efforts to identify and support this vulnerable population. Moreover, existing STI/HIV prevention programming may be stymied by the limited condom use capacity, and high levels of violence observed among those trafficked into FSW.
Sex trafficking; sexual risk; condom; STI; reproductive health; sex work
In South Africa, policy with respect to HIV/AIDS has had a strong rights-based framing in line with international trends and in keeping with the constitutional overhaul in the post-Apartheid era. There have also been considerable advances since 1994 towards legal enshrinement of sexual and reproductive health rights and in the provision of related services. Since HIV in this setting has heavily affected women of reproductive age, there has been discussion about the particular needs of this subgroup, especially in the context of service integration. This paper is concerned with the way in which HIV positive women conceptualise these rights and whether they wish and are able to actualise them in their daily lives.
In 2003 a group of women involved with the Treatment Action Campaign and Medicines Sans Frontières participated in an initiative to ‘map’ their bodies as affected by the virus. A book containing the maps and narratives was published and used as a political tool to pressure the government of the day to roll out antiretroviral therapy (ART) to the population. In 2008, the authors coordinated an initiative that involved conducting follow-up in-depth interviews in which five of these women reflected on those body maps and on how their lives had changed in the intervening five years since gaining the right to treatment through the public sector.
Drawing upon this qualitative data and published sources, these new accounts are analysed in order to reflect the perspectives of these women living with chronic HIV with respect to their sexual relations and fertility desires. The paper reveals difficulties faced by these women in negotiating sexual relationships and disclosure of their HIV positive status. It focuses on how they perceive relative responsibilities in terms of taking preventative measures in sexual encounters. Women adopt tactics within a context characterised by various inequalities in order to ‘make do’, such as by remaining silent about their status. Concerns about childbearing can be addressed by information and support from a health care worker.
Women’s experience of HIV as a chronic illness and the need to adhere to ART, is linked to the way in which the language of responsibility can come to counter-balance a language of rights in treatment programmes.
Objective To explore female and transvestite sex workers’ perceptions of risk in the sex work environment in Serbia.
Design Qualitative interview study.
Setting Street based locations for sex work in Belgrade and Pancevo, Serbia.
Participants 31 female and transvestite sex workers.
Results Violence, including police violence, was reported as a primary concern in relation to risk. Violence was linked to unprotected sex and the reduced capacity for avoiding sexual risk. Participants reported that coerced sex was routinely provided to the police in exchange for freedom from detainment, arrest, or fine, and was enforced by the perceived threat of violence, sometimes realised. Accounts contained multiple instances of physical and sexual assault, presented as abuses of police authority, and described policing as a form of moral punishment. This was largely through non-physical means but was also enforced through physical violence, especially towards transvestite and Roma sex workers, whose experience of police violence was reported as relentless and brutal and connected with broader social forces of discrimination in this setting, especially towards Roma.
Conclusion Preventing violence towards sex workers, which can link with vulnerability to sexually transmitted infections, is a priority in Serbia. This requires monitoring perpetrators of violence, providing legal support to sex workers, and creating safer environments for sex work.
Expanding sexually transmitted infection (STI) epidemics in many parts of Asia increase the importance of effective human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/STI prevention programs for female sex workers. Designing sex worker health research and programs demands a well-stated conceptual approach, especially when one is interpreting the relationship between local policy environments and sex worker health. However, the core principles of the 2 most common conceptual approaches used in sex worker health programs—abolitionism and empowerment—have frequently divergent assumptions and implications. The abolitionist approach sees major aspects of the sex industry as fundamentally coercive and exploitative of women and supports dismantling all or parts of the sex sector. The empowerment approach strengthens sex workers’ agency and rights in order to build collective self-efficacy and have women invested in implementing their own HIV/STI prevention programs. This review compares these approaches using implication analysis and empirical cases from Asia. The misperception of an unresolvable gap between the 2 approaches ignores common ground that forms the basis of a new behavioral–structural conceptual framework. Explicitly accounting for the interaction between female sex worker behaviors and larger structures and policies, a behavioral–structural approach may provide a solid foundation for sex work research and programs.
Globally, female sex workers are a population at greatly elevated risk of HIV infection, and the reasons for and context of sex industry involvement have key implications for HIV risk and prevention. Evidence suggests that experiences of sexual exploitation (i.e., forced/coerced sex exchange) contribute to health-related harms. However, public health interventions that address HIV vulnerability and sexual exploitation are lacking. Therefore, the objective of this study was to elicit recommendations for interventions to prevent sexual exploitation and reduce HIV risk from current female sex workers with a history of sexual exploitation or youth sex work. From 2010–2011, we conducted in-depth interviews with sex workers (n = 31) in Tijuana, Mexico who reported having previously experienced sexual exploitation or youth sex work. Participants recommended that interventions aim to (1) reduce susceptibility to sexual exploitation by providing social support and peer-based education; (2) mitigate harms by improving access to HIV prevention resources and psychological support, and reducing gender-based violence; and (3) provide opportunities to exit the sex industry via vocational supports and improved access to effective drug treatment. Structural interventions incorporating these strategies are recommended to reduce susceptibility to sexual exploitation and enhance capacities to prevent HIV infection among marginalized women and girls in Mexico and across international settings.
Heterosexual contact is the most common mode of transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in Nepal and it is largely linked to sex work. We assessed the non-use of condoms in sex work with intimate sex partners by female sex workers (FSWs) and the associated self-efficacy to inform the planning of STI/HIV prevention programmes in the general population.
This paper is based on a qualitative study of Female Sex Workers (FSWs) in Nepal. In-depth interviews and extended field observation were conducted with 15 FSWs in order to explore issues of safe sex and risk management in relation to their work place, health and individual behaviours.
The main risk factor identified for the non-use of condoms with intimate partners and regular clients was low self efficacy. Non-use of condoms with husband and boyfriends placed them at risk of STIs including HIV. In addition to intimidation and violence from the police, clients and intimate partners, clients' resistance and lack of negotiation capacity were identified as barriers in using condoms by the FSWs.
This study sheds light on the live and work of FSWs in Nepal. This information is relevant for both the Government of Nepal and Non Governmental Organisations (NGO) to help improve the position of FSWs in the community, their general well-being and to reduce their risks at work.
In the months leading up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, international media postulated that at least 40,000 foreign sex workers would enter South Africa, and that an increased HIV incidence would follow. To strengthen the evidence base of future HIV prevention and sexual health programmes during international sporting events, we monitored the supply and demand of female sex work in the weeks before, during and after the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
We conducted three telephonic surveys of female sex workers advertising online and in local newspapers, in the last week of May, June and July 2010. The overall response rate was 73.4% (718/978). The number of sex workers advertising online was 5.9% higher during the World Cup than before. The client turnover rate did not change significantly during (adjusted rate ratio [aRR] = 1.05; 95%CI: 0.90–1.23) or after (aRR = 1.06; 95%CI: 0.91–1.24) the World Cup. The fraction of non-South African sex workers declined during (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 0.50; 95%CI: 0.32–0.79) and after (aOR = 0.56; 95%CI: 0.37–0.86) the World Cup. Relatively more clients were foreign during the World Cup among sex workers advertising in the newspapers (aOR = 2.74; 95%CI: 1.37–5.48) but not among those advertising online (aOR = 1.06; 95%CI: 0.60–1.90). Self-reported condom use was high (99.0%) at baseline, and did not change during (aOR = 1.07; 95% CI: 0.16–7.30) or after (aOR = 1.13; 95% CI: 0.16–8.10) the Word Cup.
Our findings do not provide evidence for mass-immigration of foreign sex workers advertising online and in local newspapers, nor a spike in sex work or risk of HIV transmission in this subpopulation of sex workers during the World Cup. Public health programmes focusing on sex work and HIV prevention during international sporting events should be based on evidence, not media-driven sensationalism that further heightens discrimination against sex workers and increases their vulnerability.
Reducing harm associated with selling and purchasing sex is an important public health priority in China, yet there are few examples of sustainable, successful programs to promote sexual health among female sex workers. The limited civil society and scope of nongovernmental organizations circumscribe the local capacity of female sex workers to collectively organize, advocate for their rights, and implement STI/HIV prevention programs. The purpose of this study was to examine social networks among low-income female sex workers in South China to determine their potential for sexual health promotion.
Semi-structured interviews with 34 low-income female sex workers and 28 health outreach members were used to examine how social relationships affected condom use and negotiation, STI/HIV testing and health-seeking behaviors, and dealing with violent clients. These data suggested that sex worker's laoxiang (hometown social connections) were more powerful than relationships between women selling sex at the same venue in establishing the terms and risk of commercial sex. Female sex workers from the same hometown often migrated to the city with their laoxiang and these social connections fulfilled many of the functions of nongovernmental organizations, including collective mobilization, condom promotion, violence mitigation, and promotion of health-seeking behaviors. Outreach members observed that sex workers accompanied by their laoxiang were often more willing to accept STI/HIV testing and trust local sexual health services.
Organizing STI/HIV prevention services around an explicitly defined laoxiang social network may provide a strong foundation for sex worker health programs. Further research on dyadic interpersonal relationships between female sex workers, group dynamics and norm establishment, and the social network characteristics are needed.
Little is known about the structure and context of, and the risks encountered in, sex work in the United States.
This community-based participatory research (CBPR) study explored female sex work and the feasibility of conducting a larger study of sex work within the immigrant Latino community in North Carolina.
Twelve abbreviated life story interviews were conducted with Latina women who sold sex, other women who sold sex to Latino men, and Latino men who hired sex workers. Content analysis was used to analyze narrative data.
Themes emerged to describe the structure of sex work, motivations to sell and hire sex, and the sexual health-related needs of sex workers. Lessons learned included the ease of recruiting sex workers and clients, the need to develop relationships with controllers and bar owners/managers, and the high compensation costs to reimburse sex workers for participation.
Study findings suggest that it is possible to identify and recruit sex workers and clients and collect formative data within this highly vulnerable and neglected community; the prevention of HIV and STDs is a priority among sex workers, and the need for a larger study to include non-Latino men who report using Latina sex workers, other community insiders (e.g., bartenders), and service providers for Latina sex workers.
Community-based participatory research; community health partnerships; health promotion; rural population; HIV/AIDS; sexually transmitted diseases; women’s health; health disparities
This article describes and analyses a research based engagement by a university school of public health in Bangladesh aimed at raising public debate on sexuality and rights and making issues such as discrimination more visible to policy makers and other key stakeholders in a challenging context. The impetus for this work came from participation in an international research programme with a particular interest in bridging international and local understandings of sexual and reproductive rights. The research team worked to create a platform to broaden discussions on sexuality and rights by building on a number of research activities on rural and urban men’s and women’s sexual health concerns, and on changing concepts of sexuality and understandings of sexual rights among specific population groups in Dhaka city, including sexual minorities. Linked to this on-going process of improving the evidence base, there has been a series of learning and capacity building activities over the last four years consisting of training workshops, meetings, conferences and dialogues. These brought together different configurations of stakeholders – members of sexual minorities, academics, service providers, advocacy organisations, media and policy makers. This process contributed to developing more effective advocacy strategies through challenging representations of sexuality and rights in the public domain. Gradually, these efforts brought visibility to hidden or stigmatised sexuality and rights issues through interim outcomes that have created important steps towards changing attitudes and policies. These included creating safe spaces for sexual minorities to meet and strategise, development of learning materials for university students and engagement with legal rights groups on sexual rights. Through this process, it was found to be possible to create a public space and dialogue on sexuality and rights in a conservative and challenging environment like Bangladesh by bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders to successfully challenge representations of sexuality in the public arena. A further challenge for BRAC University has been to assess its role as a teaching and research organisation, and find a balance between the two roles of research and activism in doing work on sexuality issues in a very sensitive political context.
The Supreme Court's March 1991 ruling in United Automobile Workers (UAW) versus Johnson Controls barring corporate "fetal protection policies" was a major victory for women's employment rights and has health and safety implications for both sexes. However, 2 years after the Court's decision, the union's work is far from over. The UAW has yet to see what policy Johnson Controls will implement in place of the old one. Formulating solutions to the concerns of workers who are exposed daily to reproductive health hazards on the job will continue to be on labor's agenda. Preventing hazardous exposures is the first priority. This goal would be furthered by setting occupational health and safety standards designed to protect workers' general and reproductive health. Support for the Comprehensive Occupational Safety and Health Reform Act (COSHRA) would also positively affect health and safety in the workplace. Where hazards have not yet been abated, the framework of transfers and income protections for all workers with temporary job restrictions should be examined. The Legal/Labor Working Group convened at the Occupational and Environmental Reproductive Hazards Working Conference authored guidelines for developing a model reproductive hazards policy. These recommendations can serve as a guide for implementation of nondiscriminatory and health-protective policies by employers.
Female entertainment workers in China are at risk of sexually acquiring HIV, but risk factors of their unsafe sex remain understudied. Using information from a venue-based sample of 724 female entertainment workers in Shanghai, this paper examines the prevalence and risk factors of unsafe sex and STIs. While both measures of unsafe sex and history of common STIs suggest that participants in this study appear to have lower rates of unsafe sex and STIs than reported in the literature, venue-based female entertainment workers are at risk of sexually acquiring HIV. Risk factors of unsafe sex include both individual cognitive (information, motivation, and behavioral skills) and social factors. However, HIV related information and most social factors are not directly and independently associated with unsafe sex. Behavioral intervention is needed for female entertainment workers in China. However, individual-based cognitive approach alone may be limited in effectiveness in reducing unsafe sex among female entertainment workers. Effective intervention needs to take a multi-level approach that addresses both individual cognitive and social risk factors and can particularly benefit from attention to empowering women in sexual relationships and creating a supportive social and working environment.
HIV risk; female entertainment workers; unsafe sex; STIs; China
Some quantitative behavioral studies in the USA have concluded that bisexually behaving Latino men are less likely than White men to disclose to their female partners that they have engaged in same-sex risk behavior and/or are HIV-positive, presumably exposing female partners to elevated risk for HIV infection. Nevertheless, very little theoretical or empirical research has been conducted to understand the social factors that promote or inhibit sexual risk disclosure among Latino men who have sex with men (MSM), and much of the existing literature has neglected to contextualize disclosure patterns within broader experiences of stigma and social inequality. This paper examines decisions about disclosure of sex work, same-sex behavior, and sexual risk for HIV among male sex workers in two cities in the Dominican Republic. Data derive from long-term ethnography and qualitative in-depth interviews with 72 male sex workers were used to analyze the relationships among experiences of stigma, social inequality, and patterns of sexual risk disclosure. Thematic analysis of interviews and ethnographic evidence revealed a wide range of stigma management techniques utilized by sex workers to minimize the effects of marginality due to their engagement in homosexuality and sex work. These techniques imposed severe constraints on men’s sexual risk disclosure, and potentially elevated their own and their female partners’ vulnerability to HIV infection. Based on the study’s findings, we conclude that future studies of sexual risk disclosure among ethnic minority MSM should avoid analyzing disclosure as a decontextualized variable, and should seek to examine sexual risk communication as a dynamic social process constrained by hierarchical systems of power and inequality.
Bisexuality; HIV/AIDS; Sexual risk disclosure; Stigma; Male sex work; Dominican Republic; Social inequality
In a major decision handed down last term (International Union [UAW] versus Johnson Controls, Inc.), the Supreme Court ruled that employment practices excluding fertile or pregnant women from the workplace because of alleged concerns for fetal health constitute illegal sex discrimination. We analyze the three opinions in the case and explain why the decision was an essential first step to promoting reproductive and developmental health in the workplace. Continued progress toward eliminating or reducing reproductive occupational risks will require comprehensive legal strategies involving private lawsuits, governmental regulation and enforcement actions, and new legislation designed to preserve the existing rights of workers and to obtain new and additional protections. Finally, we caution that, in designing such strategies, it will be important to avoid solutions that either shift responsibility for reproductive health to workers, rather than to employers, or that undermine other important legal rights.
Relatively little research has examined the personal sex lives of indoor male sex workers (MSWs) or possible connections in this group between sexual behavior and factors related to HIV risk. As part of a larger project, this study collected data from 30 agency-based indoor MSWs (mean = 22.4 years) about their sexual behavior, mental health, and substance use. Few HIV risk behaviors with clients occurred. Drug use and mental health problems were relatively frequent, but not related to increased risk behavior. Instead, MSWs appeared to employ rational decision-making and harm-reduction strategies. Conceptualization of MSW sexual behavior may be required where HIV risk is not attributed to sex work per se, but to other influences such as economic and relational factors.
Sex work; prostitution; male sex worker; HIV risk behavior; HIV; mental health; substance use; sexual behavior
Female sex workers (FSWs) are a population sub-group most affected by the HIV epidemic in India and elsewhere. Despite research and programmatic attention to FSWs, little is known regarding sex workers' reproductive health and HIV risk in relation to their experiences of violence. This paper therefore aims to understand the linkages between violence and the reproductive health and HIV risks among a group of mobile FSWs in India.
Data are drawn from a cross-sectional behavioural survey conducted in 22 districts from four high HIV prevalence states (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu) in India between September 2007 and July 2008. The survey sample included 5,498 FSWs who had moved to at least two different places for sex work in the past two years, and are classified as mobile FSWs in the current study. Analyses calculated the prevalence of past year experiences of violence; and adjusted logistic regression models examined the association between violence and reproductive health and HIV risks after controlling for background characteristics and program exposure.
Approximately one-third of the total mobile FSWs (30.5%, n = 1,676) reported experiencing violence at least once in the past year; 11% reported experiencing physical violence, and 19.5% reported experiencing sexual violence. Results indicate that FSWs who had experienced any violence (physical or sexual) were significantly more likely to be vulnerable to both reproductive health and HIV risks. For example, FSWs who experienced violence were more likely than those who did not experience violence to have experienced a higher number of pregnancies (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 1.2, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.0-1.6), ever experienced pregnancy loss (adjusted OR = 1.4, 95% CI = 1.2-1.6), ever experienced forced termination of pregnancy (adjusted OR = 2.4, 95% CI = 2.0-2.7), experienced multiple forced termination of pregnancies (adjusted OR = 2.2, 95% CI = 1.7-2.8), and practice inconsistent condom use currently (adjusted OR = 1.97, 95% CI: 1.4-2.0). Among FSWs who experienced violence, those who experienced sexual violence were more likely than those who had experienced physical violence to report inconsistent condom use (adjusted OR = 1.8, 95% CI: 1.4-2.3), and experience STI symptoms (adjusted OR = 1.3, 95% CI: 1.1-1.7).
The pervasiveness of violence and its association with reproductive health and HIV risk highlights that the abuse in general is an important determinant for reproductive health risks; and sexual violence is significantly associated with HIV risks among those who experienced violence. Existing community mobilization programs that have primarily focused on empowering FSWs should broaden their efforts to promote reproductive health in addition to the prevention of HIV among all FSWs, with particular emphasis on FSWs who experienced violence.
OBJECTIVES: To compare indicators of sexual health and predictors of condom use for commercial sex among local and international female sex workers first attending an STD clinic. SETTING: A public STD clinic in Sydney, Australia. SUBJECTS: All sex workers first attending between June 1991 and May 1993. METHODS: Cross-sectional analysis of demographic, behavioural and morbidity data from proforma medical records. RESULTS: 91 local sex workers and 123 international sex workers (predominantly from Thailand, Malaysia and China) first presented during the study period. There were significantly higher prevalences of chlamydia (0 v. 15%, p = 0.0002), gonorrhoea (0 v. 14%, p = 0.0006), syphilis (0 v. 10%, p = 0.006) and clinical genital herpes (0 v. 5%, p = 0.04) among international sex workers. The only case of HIV infection was in an international sex worker. Inconsistent condom use for commercial sex was significantly more common among international sex workers (RR = 4.5; 95% CI 3.1-6.5). On multivariate analysis, inconsistent condom use in international sex workers was associated with a recent history of prostitution outside Australia (p = 0.04), while inconsistent condom usage among local sex workers was associated with increasing age (p = 0.003). CONCLUSIONS: These data illustrate the efficacy of condoms and the success of targeted education programmes in local sex workers in Sydney. By contrast, international sex workers continued to be at high risk of STDs. The international sex industry in Sydney requires enhanced culture-specific interventions. Immigration laws as they affect sex workers should also be reviewed.
The National Health Act, No 61, 2003 in South Africa is the first effort made by the government to protect health-related research participants under law. Implemented on March 1, 2012, the law mandates active consent from a parent or legal guardian for all research conducted with research participants under the age of 18 years. This paper focuses on the Act's implications for school-based adolescent sexual and reproductive health research.
Although well intentioned, the added legal protections in the National Health Act may have the unintended consequence of reducing participation rates in school-based adolescent sexual and reproductive health research, thereby excluding the most at-risk students. The Act may also compromise adolescents' right to dignity and privacy, especially considering the personal nature of research on sex and sexuality. Devolved, discretionary decision-making, which empowers local human research ethics committees to permit a wider range of protective measures, including passive consent, independent adolescent consent or community consultation ought to be considered. The continued and direct involvement of young people in their sexual and reproductive health and well-being is an important principle to uphold.
This paper calls for a re-examination of section 71's ethical guidelines relating to informed consent in the National Health Act, No 61, 2003 in South Africa in order to better serve the interests of South African adolescents in sexual and reproductive health research.
HIV prevalence in India remains high among female sex workers. This paper presents the main findings of a qualitative study of the modes of operation of female sex work in Belgaum district, Karnataka, India, incorporating fifty interviews with sex workers. Thirteen sex work settings (distinguished by sex workers' main places of solicitation and sex) are identified. In addition to previously documented brothel, lodge, street, dhaba (highway restaurant), and highway-based sex workers, under-researched or newly emerging sex worker categories are identified, including phone-based sex workers, parlour girls, and agricultural workers. Women working in brothels, lodges, dhabas, and on highways describe factors that put them at high HIV risk. Of these, dhaba and highway-based sex workers are poorly covered by existing interventions. The paper examines the HIV-related vulnerability factors specific to each sex work setting. The modes of operation and HIV-vulnerabilities of sex work settings identified in this paper have important implications for the local programme.