Journal Article

Paying for sex by young men who live on the streets in Dhaka City: Compounded sexual risk in a vulnerable migrant community

Purpose
Dhaka City is home to thousands of migrants from Bangladesh's rural areas who often live in the streets. Prior studies examine street youth's practice of selling sex as a survival mechanism. We assess their less-studied practice of paying for sex and its association with sexual risk behaviors and outcomes.

Methods
As part of the global Link Up project, trained interviewers recruited 447 young men who live on the streets, ages 15–24, from seven Dhaka City “hotspots” to participate in a survey about sexual health. Among those who ever had sex, we examined frequencies and conducted bivariate analyses of sociodemographic characteristics by paying for sex status. We then conducted bivariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses of paying for sex in the last 12 months and sexual health behaviors and outcomes.

Results
Median participant age was 18 years. Among those who ever had sex (N = 321), 80% reported paying for sex in the last 12 months and 15% reported selling sex in the last 12 months. In multivariate analyses, those who paid for sex had significantly increased odds of reporting sexually transmitted infection–related symptoms in the last six months (adjusted odds ratio = 1.76, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.17–2.64) and engaging in unprotected last sex with a nonprimary partner (adjusted odds ratio = 2.19, CI = 1.58–3.03).

Conclusions
The adverse factors associated with paying for sex among young men who live on the streets in Dhaka City highlight the need for programs to educate on HIV/sexually transmitted infection prevention and promote condom use, STI screening/treatment, and HIV testing in this population.