Background: The aims of the study were to estimate HIV prevalence among sex workers (SWs) in Jamaica and to identify risk factors associated with HIV infection.
Method: Face to face interviews and HIV testing of 450 SWs across Jamaica were conducted in 2005. Participants were identified by key informants.
Results: About 9% of SWs were HIV-positive. HIV-positive SWs tended to be older, less educated, have a history of crack/cocaine use, and were less likely to be aware of the Ministry of Health's prevention programme. More than 90% of SWs reported having easy access to condoms and using condoms at last sex with local and tourist clients. However, 30% of SWs used condoms with nonpaying partners. Knowledge of HIV prevention methods was high but only 38.6% of SWs appropriately rejected myths about HIV transmission by mosquito bites and meal sharing.
Conclusion: Prevention programmes targeting SWs must emphasize the risk associated with both paying and nonpaying sexual partners while providing knowledge about HIV prevention. Increased access to prevention programmes is likely to reduce HIV prevalence among this population.