Prevalence of & knowledge, attitude & practices towards HIV & sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among female sex workers in Andhra Pradesh

As part of the baseline survey carried out during 2005-06, biological and behavioural data were generated on about 3200 female sex workers (FSWs), from eight districts of Andhra Pradesh (AP), India. This study describes the relationship between socio-demographic and behavioural factors with consistent condom use (CCU) and HIV among FSWs in AP.

Methods: A cross-sectional community-based study was conducted among female sex workers (FSW) in eight districts of Andhra Pradesh, India, using conventional cluster sampling and time-location cluster sampling. Key risk behaviours and STIs related to the spread of HIV were assessed. Blood samples were collected to detect syphilis, Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) Chlamydia trachomatis (CT), Neiserria gonorrhoeae (NG) and HIV serology.
Results: About 70 per cent of the FSWs were illiterates, nearly 50 per cent were currently married and 41 per cent of the FSWs had sex work as the sole source of income. More than 95 per cent of the FSWs heard of HIV, but about 99 per cent believed that HIV/AIDS cannot be prevented. Logistic regression analysis showed significantly lesser CCU with high client volume, not carrying condom and could not use condom in past 1 month due to various reasons such as non co-operation by the clients. Similarly, CCU was significantly (P<0.001) lesser (only 8.9%) with regular non-commercial partners. Overall there was 16.3 per cent prevalence of HIV amongst FSWs. C. trachomatis and N. gonorrheae were prevalent in 3.4 and 2 per cent of the FSWs, respectively and about 70 per cent of the FSWs were positive for HSV2 serology. HIV was significantly associated with STIs.
Interpretation & conclusions: Misconception that HIV/AIDS cannot be prevented is very high. Most of the subjects in the present study had first sexual debut at a very young age. HIV was associated with STIs, emphasizing aggressive STI diagnosis and treatment. CCU must be emphasized right from first sexual debut with all clients and non-commercial partners as well.

Year of publication: 
Health and HIV
R. Hemalatha, R. Hari Kumar, K. Venkaiah, K. Srinivasan* & G.N.V. Brahmam National