Background:: Female sex workers (FSWs) in Thailand are at high risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Although regular attendance at public STD clinics is required, FSWs may frequently use medications obtained in the community for STDs.
Objectives:: To determine the frequency of use of medications for STDs from sources other than public STD clinics among FSWs in Thailand and to describe factors associated with such medication use.
Methods:: A cross‐sectional survey of FSWs attending the public STD clinic in Chiang Rai, Thailand, was performed.
Results:: Of the 200 FSWs interviewed, 55% had ever used medications to treat or prevent STDs from a source other than a public STD Clinic, and 36% had done so in the prior year. Most use (79%) was to treat STD symptoms, and medication was most frequently obtained directly from a pharmacy (54%). This use of community medication for STDs was associated with younger age, non‐Thai ethnicity, seeking STD treatment during the current clinic visit, and brothel‐based sex work.
Conclusions:: Use of medications from various sources in the community was common among these FSWs. Further research is needed to determine the appropriateness of this treatment. Innovative methods to ensure adequate quality STD care by community providers and to improve the health‐care‐seeking behaviors of these high‐risk women are needed.