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HIV Prevalence and Related Behaviors Among Sex Workers in Jamaica

Duncan, Jacqueline MD, MPH*; Gebre, Yitades MD, MPH, MSc; Grant, Yoran PHD (abd), MPH; Wedderburn, Maxine BSc§; Byfield, Lovette MSc; Bourne, Deborah MA§; Brown, Marsha MSc; Figueroa, J. Peter MBBS, DPH, PHD

Sexually Transmitted Diseases: May 2010 - Volume 37 - Issue 5 - p 306-310
doi: 10.1097/OLQ.0b013e3181c6e851
Original Study

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.

A study of Jamaican sex workers found more crack/cocaine use, less education and less exposure to the Ministry of Health's HIV programmes among HIV-positive sex workers.

From the *Monitoring Evaluation Unit, National HIV/STI Programme, Kingston, Jamaica; †Family Health and Disease Managment, PAHO–Trinadad & Tobago; ‡Department of Epidemiology, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami, FL; §Hope Enterprises Ltd., Kingston, Jamaica; ¶National HIV/STI Programme, Kingston, Jamaica; and ∥Department Of Community Health, University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica

Correspondence: Jacqueline Duncan, MD, MPH, Monitoring and Evaluation Unit, National HIV/STI Programme, Kingston, Jamaica. E-mail:

Received for publication June 4, 2009, and accepted October 16, 2009.

© Copyright 2010 American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association