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1.  Biomarker validation of recent unprotected sexual intercourse in a prospective study of young women engaged in sex work in Phnom Penh, Cambodia 
Sexually transmitted diseases  2013;40(6):462-468.
Summary
A study of female sex workers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia found self-reported condom use to be of questionable validity, particularly among amphetamine-type stimulant (ATS) users and those with multiple partners.
Background
Accurate measurement of unprotected sex is essential in HIV prevention research. Since 2001, the 100% Condom Use Program targeting female sex workers (FSW) has been a central element of the Cambodian National HIV/AIDS Strategy. We sought to assess the validity of self-reported condom use using the rapid prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test among Cambodian FSW.
Methods
From 2009 to 2010 we enrolled 183 FSW in Phnom Penh in a prospective study of HIV risk behavior. PSA test results from the OneStep ABAcard® were compared to self-reported condom use in the past 48 hours at quarterly follow-up visits.
Results
Among women positive for seminal fluid at the first follow-up visit, 42% reported only protected sex or no sex in the detection period. Discordant results were more likely among brothel and street-based FSW vs. entertainment (56% vs. 17%), recent (last 3 months) ATS users (53% vs. 20%), and those with >5 partners in the past month (58% vs. 13%). In multivariable regression models, positive PSA results were associated with recent ATS use (Adjusted Risk Ratio (ARR) = 1.5; 95% confidence interval (CI):1.1 – 2.2), having a non-paying last sex partner (ARR=1.7; CI:1.2 – 2.5), and sex work venue (ARR=3.0; CI:1.4 – 6.5). Correspondingly, women with a non-paying last sex partner were more likely to report unprotected sex (ARR=1.5; CI:1.1 – 2.2), but no associations were found with sex work venue or ATS use.
Conclusions
Results confirm the questionable validity of self-reported condom use among FSW. The PSA biomarker assay is an important monitoring tool in HIV/STI research including prevention trials.
doi:10.1097/OLQ.0b013e318286db8a
PMCID: PMC3891890  PMID: 23680902
2.  Sex work and HIV in Cambodia: trajectories of risk and disease in two cohorts of high-risk young women in Phnom Penh, Cambodia 
BMJ Open  2013;3(9):e003095.
Objectives
HIV prevalence among Cambodian female sex workers (FSW) is among the highest in Southeast Asia. We describe HIV prevalence and associated risk exposures in FSW sampled serially in Phnom Penh, Cambodia (Young Women's Health Study (YWHS)), before and after the implementation of a new law designed to combat human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
Design
Cross-sectional analysis of baseline data from two prospective cohorts.
Setting
Community-based study in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Participants
Women aged 15–29 years, reporting ≥2 sexual partners in the last month and/or engaged in transactional sex in the last 3 months, were enrolled in the studies in 2007 (N=161; YWHS-1), and 2009 (N=220; YWHS-2) following information sessions where 285 and 345 women attended.
Primary outcomes
HIV prevalence, sexual risk behaviour, amphetamine-type stimulant (ATS) and alcohol use, and work-related factors were compared in the two groups, enrolled before and after implementation of the new law.
Results
Participants in the two cohorts were similar in age (median 25 years), but YWHS-2 women reported fewer sex partners, more alcohol use and less ATS use. A higher proportion of YWHS-2 compared with YWHS-1 women worked in entertainment-based venues (68% vs 31%, respectively). HIV prevalence was significantly lower in the more recently sampled women: 9.2% (95% CI 4.5% to 13.8%) vs 23% (95% CI 16.5% to 29.7%).
Conclusions
Sex work context and risk have shifted among young FSW in Phnom Penh, following implementation of anti-prostitution and anti-trafficking laws. While both cohorts were recruited using the same eligibility criteria, more recently sampled women had lower prevalence of sexual risk and HIV infection. Women engaging more directly in transactional sex have become harder to sample and access. Future prevention research and programmes need to consider how new policies and demographic changes in FSW impact HIV transmission.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003095
PMCID: PMC3773643  PMID: 24022389
EPIDEMIOLOGY
3.  Young Women Engaged in Sex Work in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Have High Incidence of HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections, and Amphetamine-Type Stimulant Use: New Challenges to HIV Prevention and Risk 
Sexually transmitted diseases  2011;38(1):33-39.
Objectives
To estimate prevalence and incidence of HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STI) and associated risk factors among young women working as sex workers (SWs) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Methods
A prospective study of young (<29 years) women working as SWs in brothels, entertainment establishments, and freelance. Sociodemographics, sexual risk, and use of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) (“yama” and “crystal”) were assessed by self-report. HIV and STI (Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae) testing were conducted on blood and urine specimens, respectively.
Results
Baseline prevalences of HIV, C. trachomatis, and N. gonorrhoeae were 23%, 11.5%, and 7.8%, respectively. HIV incidence was 3.6 per 100 person-years (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.2%– 11.1%); STI incidence was 21.2 per 100 person-years (95% CI, 12.6%– 35.8%). At baseline, 26.5% reported recent ATS use. HIV infection was associated with freelance SW (adjusted odds ratio, 5.85; 95% CI, 1.59–21.58) and younger age of first sex (≤15 years; adjusted odds ratio, 3.06; 95% CI, 1.01–8.46). Incident STI was associated with duration (per year) of SW (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.1; 95% CI, 1.1–1.2) and recent yama use (adjusted hazard ratio, 3.9; 95% CI, 1.5–10.3).
Conclusions
HIV and STI infection rates were high among SWs working in various settings; freelancers had highest risk. ATS use was associated with incident STI. Venue of sex work and drug prevention should be considered in prevention programs.
doi:10.1097/OLQ.0b013e3182000e47
PMCID: PMC3729941  PMID: 21085056
4.  Condom negotiation across different relationship types by young women engaged in sex work in Phnom Penh, Cambodia 
Global public health  2013;8(3):270-283.
Cambodia's 100% Condom Use Programme is credited with an increase in consistent condom use in commercial sexual interactions and a decrease in HIV prevalence among female sex workers (FSWs). There has been little improvement in condom use between FSWs and non-commercial partners, prompting calls for more innovative approaches to increasing condom use in these relationships. To understand why condoms are used or not used in sexual interactions involving FSWs, we examined condom negotiation across different types of relationships. We conducted 33 in-depth interviews with young (15 to 29 years) women engaged in sex work in Phnom Penh. There was an important interplay between the meanings of condom use and the meanings of women's relationships. Commercial relationships were characterised as inherently risky and necessitated condom use. Despite a similar lack of sexual fidelity, sweetheart relationships were rarely construed as risky and typically did not involve condom use. Husbands and wives constructed their sexual interactions with each other differently, making agreement on condom use difficult. The lack of improvement in condom use in FSWs' non-commercial sexual relationships needs to be understood in relation to both sex work and the broader Cambodian sexual culture within which these relationships are embedded.
doi:10.1080/17441692.2013.767930
PMCID: PMC3729959  PMID: 23432108
female sex workers; condoms; sexually transmitted infections; HIV; Cambodia
5.  Cervical human papillomavirus infection among young women engaged in sex work in Phnom Penh, Cambodia: prevalence, genotypes, risk factors and association with HIV infection 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2012;12:166.
Background
Although cervical cancer is the leading cancer in Cambodia, most women receive no routine screening for cervical cancer and few treatment options exist. Moreover, nothing is known regarding the prevalence of cervical HPV or the genotypes present among women in the country. Young sexually active women, especially those with multiple sex partners are at highest risk of HPV infection. We examine the prevalence and genotypes of cervical HPV, as well as the associated risk factors among young women engaged in sex work in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Methods
We conducted a cross-sectional study among 220 young women (15–29 years) engaged in sex work in different venues including brothels or entertainment establishments, and on a freelance basis in streets, parks and private apartments. Cervical specimens were collected using standard cytobrush technique. HPV DNA was tested for by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and genotyping using type-specific probes for 29 individual HPV types, as well as for a mixture of 10 less common HPV types. All participants were also screened for HIV status using blood samples. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were conducted to assess risk factors for any or multiple HPV infection.
Results
The prevalence of cervical HPV 41.1%. HPV 51 and 70 were the most common (5.0%), followed by 16 (4.6%), 71 (4.1%) and 81 (3.7%). Thirty-six women (16.4%) were infected with multiple genotypes and 23.3% were infected with at least one oncogenic HPV type. In multivariate analyses, having HIV infection and a higher number of sexual partners were associated with cervical HPV infection. Risk factors for infection with multiple genotypes included working as freelance female sex workers (FSW) or in brothels, recent binge use of drugs, high number of sexual partners, and HIV infection.
Conclusions
This is the first Cambodian study on cervical HPV prevalence and genotypes. We found that HPV infection was common among young FSW, especially among women infected with HIV. These results underscore the urgent need for accessible cervical cancer screening and treatment, as well as for a prophylactic vaccine that covers the HPV subtypes present in Cambodia.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-12-166
PMCID: PMC3436768  PMID: 22839728
6.  Testing for amphetamine-type stimulant (ATS) use to ascertain validity of self-reported ATS use among young female sex workers in Cambodia 
Objective
To assess concordance between self-reported amphetamine-type stimulant (ATS) use and toxicology results among young female sex workers (FSW) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Methods
Cross-sectional data from the Young Women’s Health Study-2 (YWHS-2), a prospective study of HIV and ATS use among young (15 to 29 years) FSW in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, was analyzed. The YWHS-2 assessed sociodemographic characteristics, HIV serology, HIV risk, and ATS use by self-report and urine toxicology testing at each quarterly visit, the second of which provided data for this assessment. Outcomes include sensitivity, specificity, positive- and negative predictive values (overall and stratified by age), sex-work setting, and HIV status.
Results
Among 200 women, prevalence of positive toxicology screening for ATS use was 14% (95% confidence interval [CI], 9.2, 18.9%) and concurrent prevalence of self-reported ATS was 15.5% (95% CI, 10.4, 20.6%). The sensitivity and specificity of self-reported ATS use compared to positive toxicology test results was 89.3% (25/28), and 96.5% (166/172), respectively. The positive predictive value of self-reported ATS use was 80.6% (25/31); the negative predictive value was 98.2% (166/169). Some differences in concordance between self-report and urine toxicology results were noted in analyses stratified by age group and sex-work setting but not by HIV status.
Conclusion
Results indicate a high prevalence of ATS use among FSW in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and high concordance between self-reported and toxicology-test confirmed ATS use.
doi:10.1186/1940-0640-7-11
PMCID: PMC3507647  PMID: 23186171
7.  Selling sex in unsafe spaces: sex work risk environments in Phnom Penh, Cambodia 
Background
The risk environment framework provides a valuable but under-utilised heuristic for understanding environmental vulnerability to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections among female sex workers. Brothels have been shown to be safer than street-based sex work, with higher rates of consistent condom use and lower HIV prevalence. While entertainment venues are also assumed to be safer than street-based sex work, few studies have examined environmental influences on vulnerability to HIV in this context.
Methods
As part of the Young Women's Health Study, a prospective observational study of young women (15-29 years) engaged in sex work in Phnom Penh, we conducted in-depth interviews (n = 33) to explore vulnerability to HIV/STI and related harms. Interviews were conducted in Khmer by trained interviewers, transcribed and translated into English and analysed for thematic content.
Results
The intensification of anti-prostitution and anti-trafficking efforts in Cambodia has increased the number of women working in entertainment venues and on the street. Our results confirm that street-based sex work places women at risk of HIV/STI infection and identify significant environmental risks related to entertainment-based sex work, including limited access to condoms and alcohol-related intoxication. Our data also indicate that exposure to violence and interactions with the police are mediated by the settings in which sex is sold. In particular, transacting sex in environments such as guest houses where there is little or no oversight in the form of peer or managerial support or protection, may increase vulnerability to HIV/STI.
Conclusions
Entertainment venues may also provide a high risk environment for sex work. Our results indicate that strategies designed to address HIV prevention among brothel-based FSWs in Cambodia have not translated well to street and entertainment-based sex work venues in which increasing numbers of women are working. There is an urgent need for targeted interventions, supported by legal and policy reforms, designed to reduce the environmental risks of sex work in these settings. Future research should seek to investigate sex work venues as risk environments, explore the role of different business models in mediating these environments, and identify and quantify exposure to risk in different occupational settings.
doi:10.1186/1477-7517-8-30
PMCID: PMC3339327  PMID: 22099449
sex work; risk; environment; vulnerability; HIV; STI; young women; entertainment; Cambodia

Results 1-7 (7)