Part time female sex workers in a suburban community in Kenya: a vulnerable hidden population

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BACKGROUND: In sub-Saharan Africa, female sex workers (FSWs) are a vulnerable high risk group for the acquisition and transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STI) and HIV. OBJECTIVES: To study parameters of sexual behaviour and knowledge of STI and HIV, to describe health seeking behaviour related to STI, and to measure the prevalence of gonorrhoea, chlamydia, syphilis, and HIV-1, to provide baseline data for targeted STI and HIV prevention interventions. METHODS: In a cross sectional survey with snowballing recruitment, between February and March 2000, 503 self identified FSWs in a suburb in Mombasa, Kenya, were interviewed with a structured questionnaire and screened for gonorrhoea, chlamydia, syphilis, and HIV-1. RESULTS: The mean number of sexual partners in the previous week was 2.8 (SD 1.6). The mean number of non-regular clients and regular clients in the previous week was 1.5 (1.0) and 1.0 (0.9) respectively. The median weekly income from sex work was $US15. A total of 337 (67%) women had an alternative income in the informal sector. 146 (29%) and 145 (45%) never used a condom with a client and non-paying partner respectively. The prevalence of gonorrhoea, chlamydia, and syphilis was 1.8%, 4.2%, and 2.0% respectively. The overall HIV-1 seroprevalence was 30.6%. CONCLUSIONS: There is a large need for intensive STI and HIV prevention interventions in part time FSW

Authors & affiliation: 
Hawken MP, Melis RD, Ngombo DT, Mandaliya K, Ng'ang'a LW, Price J, Dallabetta G, Temmerman M. International Centre for Reproductive Health, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium. icrh@ikenya.com
PubMedID: 
12181465
Published In: 
Sex Transm Infect ,2002 Aug ,78 4,271-273,
Publication date: 
Thursday, August 1, 2002