Clients of female sex workers (FSWs) are an important bridging population for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. However, the extent of risk to female noncommercial partners (NCPs) of clients has not been explored.
Data originated from a cross-sectional behavioral and biological survey of FSW clients from 5 districts in Karnataka state, southern India. Clients were classified into 3 groups: married, single with at least 1 NCP, and single without an NCP. Bivariate and multivariable logistic regression models were constructed to examine the association between group membership and condom use patterns with FSWs and, where applicable, NCPs. HIV, herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), and other sexually transmitted infections were examined. Normalized weights were used to account for a complex sampling design.
Most respondents in our sample (n = 2328) were married (61%). Compared with single respondents without an NCP, married clients were more likely to never use condoms with both occasional (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 1.8; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.3–2.5; P < 0.0001) and regular (AOR, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.1–2.6; P = 0.015) FSWs. Among clients with an NCP, married clients were at higher odds of never using a condom with their NCP (AOR, 5.5; 95% CI, 3.7–8.1; P < 0.0001). Overall prevalence for HIV, HSV-2, syphilis, and chlamydia or gonorrhea infection was 5.7%, 28.3%, 3.6%, and 2.1%, respectively. The prevalence of HSV-2 was 37%, 16%, and 19% among those who were married, those single without an NCP, and those single with an NCP, respectively.
Married respondents were least likely to use condoms with both commercial and noncommercial sexual partners, while also having the highest prevalence of HSV-2. These results illustrate the risk posed to both commercial partners and NCPs of married clients.