Thursday, April 7, 2016

Effect of Physical Violence on Sexually Transmitted Infections and Treatment Seeking Behaviour among Female Sex Workers in Thane District, Maharashtra, India

Violence against sex workers can heighten their vulnerability to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Evidence suggests the risk of acquiring STI/HIV infections among female sex workers (FSWs) who have experienced violence to be almost three-times higher than FSWs, who have not experienced violence. Moreover, an experience of physical and sexual violence makes it difficult for them to negotiate safer sex with their partners and often act as a barrier to utilization of prevention services.

This study utilizes data from 2785 FSWs aged 18 years and above who participated in a cross-sectional behavioural study conducted during 2013–14 in Thane district, Maharashtra. A probability-based two-stage cluster sampling method was used for data collection. This study assesses the effect of physical violence on self-reported STI symptoms (any STI and multiple STIs) and treatment seeking for the last STI symptom using propensity score matching method.

About 18% of sampled FSWs reported physical violence at the time of the survey. The likelihood of experiencing such violence was significantly higher among FSWs who solicited clients at public places, engaged in other economic activities apart from sex work, had savings, and reported high client volume per week. FSWs experiencing violence were also inconsistent condom users while engaging in sex with regular partners and clients. The average adjusted effect of violence clearly depicted an increase in the risk of any STI (11%, p<0.05) and multiple STIs (8%, p<0.10) and reduction in treatment seeking (10%, p<0.05).

This study demonstrates a significant effect of physical violence on reporting of any STI symptom and treatment seeking. Findings call for the immediate inclusion of strategies aimed to address violence related challenges in HIV prevention program currently being provided at Thane district. Such strategies would further help in enhancing the access to tailored STI prevention and care services among FSWs in the district.

Below:  Percentage of FSWs experienced physical Violence by type of partners, Thane, 2014

Below:  Predicted probability of experiencing physical violence; matched sample, Thane, 2014

Full article at:

Alash'le G. Abimiku, Editor
HIV/AIDS Partnership for Impact through Prevention, Private Sector and Evidence-based Programming (PIPPSE) Project, Public Health Foundation of India, New Delhi, India
University of Maryland School of Medicine

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