American Public Health Association
137th Annual Meeting & Exposition
7–11 November 2009
Female sex workers and their sexual health: What's happening behind the closed door? (Abstract no. 199332)
Marium ul Mutahara and Azaher Ali Molla
Although Bangladesh is a low-prevalence country for HIV/AIDS, all the factors that may allow rapid spread of infection leading to an epidemic are present here. These factors include high-risk behavior, lack of awareness, very mobile populations, and being surrounded by countries that have a higher prevalence of HIV. Biological markers serving as surrogates of risk behavior such as sexually transmitted infections (STIs) for sexual risk and hepatitis C for transmission through blood are very high in some of the key vulnerable groups, including sex workers. STIs are low in the general population but are higher in the bridging population groups, such as truckers, and highest in sex workers. Impacts of risky sexual behavior of female sex workers on the sexual health of the general population have profound implications for the spread of HIV. A study was conducted in urban areas to understand the vulnerable situation of female sex workers and reasons for high-risk behaviors. This paper examines the underlying factors that determine the risky sexual behavior among female sex workers and their clients. Findings suggest that anal sex and group sex practice are very common and in most of the cases clients do not use condoms during sexual acts. The prevalence of STIs is also high among them, and they are not aware of their physical condition. Social discrimination and stigma work as barriers for female sex workers to seek appropriate information and services from qualified service providers and increase the risk of HIV infection.
(1) Describe risky sexual behaviors of female sex workers in Bangladesh; (2) Identify barriers faced by commercial female sex workers to seek proper RH services; (3) Analyze risk of HIV infection among sex workers and their clients.
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