Article in BMC Public Health 2011, 11:357.
Female sex workers are a population sub-group most affected by the HIV epidemic in India and elsewhere. Despite research and programmatic attention to FSWs, little is known regarding sex workers’ reproductive health and HIV risk in relation to their experiences of violence. This paper in BMC Public Health therefore aims to understand the linkages between violence and the reproductive health and HIV risks among a group of mobile FSWs in India.
Data are drawn from a cross-sectional behavioural survey conducted in 22 districts from four high HIV prevalence states (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu) in India between September 2007 and July 2008. The survey sample included 5,498 FSWs who had moved to at least two different places for sex work in the past two years, and are classified as mobile FSWs in the current study. Analyses calculated the prevalence of past year experiences of violence; and adjusted logistic regression models examined the association between violence and reproductive health and HIV risks after controlling for background characteristics and program exposure.
Approximately one-third of the total mobile FSWs reported experiencing violence at least once in the past year; 11% reported experiencing physical violence, and 19.5% reported experiencing sexual violence. Results indicate that FSWs who had experienced any violence (physical or sexual) were significantly more likely to be vulnerable to both reproductive health and HIV risks.
The pervasiveness of violence and its association with reproductive health and HIV risk highlights that the abuse in general is an important determinant for reproductive health risks; and sexual violence is significantly associated with HIV risks among those who experienced violence. Existing community mobilization programs that have primarily focused on empowering FSWs should broaden their efforts to promote reproductive health in addition to the prevention of HIV among all FSWs, with particular emphasis on FSWs who experienced violence.
(edited author abstract)
Swain Suvakanta; Saggurti Niranjan; Battala Madhusudana; Verma Ravi; Jain Anrudh