70% of Swaziland's sex workers HIV positive

Published: June 1, 2012

UNADJUSTED HIV prevalence among sex workers stands at 70.3%.

This is contained in the Swaziland HIV Bio-Behavioral Surveillance Study and Qualitative Study among Most At-Risk Populations (MARPS) conducted by the Population Service International (PSI) in conjunction with the John Hopkins University based in the United States.

The findings of the study were released by Director of Health Services, Dr. Simon Zwane at Mountain Inn yesterday.

It was observed that around the world, men who have sex with men (MSM) and female sex workers have a higher risk of HIV infection than the general population. Until now, little had been known about HIV prevalence or risk factors among these population groups in the country, hence the study was commissioned.

The study shows that HIV prevalence increased with age, with older sex workers having higher rates of HIV.

However, even the youngest group of sex workers had an HIV prevalence rate of 44%. Sex workers were more likely to be HIV infected if they were older, had lower education, married, or were ever pregnant.

Just 4% of sex workers had active syphilis.

Despite the high HIV prevalence among this group, some clients are still daring and sleep with sex workers without a condom.

Out of the 325 sex workers who participated in the study only 23.5% reported always using condoms with all partners in the past month.

More than half (55.3%) reported condom breakage/slippage in the past month. About 74% reported always using condoms with new clients in the past month.

However, condoms were used less often with regular clients and non-commercial partners; 48.2% reported always using a condom in the past month with regular clients and 33.5% reported always using a condom in the past month with non-commercial partners.

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