Recent research on HIV prevention, regardless of the population, has increasingly recognized the relevance of contextual factors in determining HIV risk. Investigating such factors among female sex workers (FSW) is especially relevant in the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, where HIV rates are among the highest across Indian states and where HIV has largely affected FSW. Stable housing is a particular contextual challenge experienced by female sex workers in this region (as well as elsewhere); however, local studies have not examined the impact of this issue on HIV risk. In this paper, we examine residential instability, defined as a high frequency of reported evictions, among FSW and relation to experiences of violence (as a factor increasing risk for HIV) and sexual risk factors for HIV. Women were recruited through respondent-driven sampling for a survey on HIV risk. Using logistic regression models, we assessed: 1) residential instability and association with HIV sexual risk variables (including unprotected sex, reported STIs, and recent physical and sexual victimization) and 2) whether the association between residential instability and reported STI (as an indicator of HIV risk) was attenuated by individual risk behaviors and violence. In adjusted logistic regression models, FSW who reported residential instability were more likely to report: sexual violence, physical violence, accepting more money for unprotected sex, and a recent STI symptom. Violence associated with residential instability contributed to reported STIs; however, residential instability remained significantly associated with STIs beyond the influence of both violence and unprotected sex with clients. Findings highlight the interrelation among residential instability, violence, and HIV risk. Residential instability appears to be associated with women’s HIV risk, above and beyond its association with individual risky sexual behaviors.
Elizabeth Reed Jhumka Gupta, Monica Biradavolu, Vasavi Devireddy and Kim M. Blankenship