The Population Council and partners are conducting the first integrated biological and behavioral research in Zambia to determine the size and HIV risk factors of key populations.
Female sex workers (FSWs), men who have sex with men (MSM), and people who inject drugs are key populations with a high risk of contracting and transmitting HIV. They are also deterred from seeking services because their behaviors are often stigmatized and even criminalized. Health care providers are often ill-equipped to address the specific and sensitive needs of these hard-to-reach groups, who are often unable to access health services.
The Council is conducted formative research to estimate the population size and distribution of female sex workers, men who have sex with men, and people who inject and do not inject drugs. Additionally, the the Council conducted an integrated biological and behavioral survey among female sex workers. The surveys measured HIV and syphilis prevalence among this population, and identified their social risks, such as stigma and discrimination, alcohol and drug use, lack of access to services, and the absence of a social support network. The survey also included a population size estimation component, which adds robustness to the estimate of the female sex worker population size.
The Council’s findings have provided national policymakers and donors with objective evidence to inform HIV prevention, care, and treatment programs for key populations.