Journal Article

Association between system reach and exposure to interventions and characteristics of mobile female sex workers in four high HIV prevalence states in India

Mobility among Female Sex Workers (FSWs) interrupts their demand for, and utilization of, health services under any intervention. Various strategic interventions are meant to provide access to care and reduce the incidence of HIV and other STIs among FSWs. This paper applies a bivariate probit regression analysis to explain the probability of mobile FSWs being reached by the system and being exposed to interventions jointly with a wide variety of characteristics of mobile FSWs in India. The data used are based on a cross-section survey among 5,498 mobile FSWs in 22 districts of four high HIV prevalence states in southern India. A majority of mobile FSWs (59%) were street-based and about 70 percent of them were members of SW organization and nearly half (46%) were highly mobile. The majority of them (90%) had been contacted by outreach workers from any system in the last two years in their current location and 94 percent were exposed to interventions in terms of getting free or subsidized condoms. Bivariate probit analysis revealed that comprehensive interventions are able to reach more vulnerable mobile FSWs effectively, e.g. new entrants, highly mobile, reported STIs, tested for HIV ever and serving a high volume of clients. The results complement the efforts of government and other agencies in response to HIV. However, the results highlight that specific issues related to various subgroups of this highly vulnerable population remain unaddressed calling for tailoring the response to the specific needs of the sub-groups.