What they know about HIV/AIDS: a survey among sex workers (women, men and transvestites) from Argentina

Published: August 1, 2008

What they know about HIV/AIDS: a survey among sex workers (women, men and transvestites) from Argentina

Background: In order to refocus counseling and prevention strategies and as part of a prevalence study, an evaluation on what this population knows about HIV/AIDS was performed.

Methods: Women, men and transvestites who define themselves as sex workers (SW), older than 18 years of age were interviewed. Part of the study was funded by The Global Fund (Sub-Project N°112).

Results: 420 women, 52 men and 74 transvestites from different cities of Argentina were interviewed. Over 60% declared they received information through massive media. About 30% received information through family, friends or colleagues. Among women, difference between AIDS and HIV was known only by 7%. Transmission routes considered were: French kiss 34%, insect bite 46%, saliva 40%.
Among men, difference between AIDS and HIV was known only by 9%. Among transvestites, difference between AIDS and HIV was known by 19%.
Donation of blood was regarded to be of high risk of transmission by near 80% in the three groups.
All groups were aware of the risk of infection through transfusion, irregular use of condom for anal or vaginal penetration and the practice of oral sex.
35% of women, 25% of men and 14% of transvestites considered they had no risk at all of getting infected with HIV. However, between 55 and 70% considered they were at risk of acquiring any disease at work.
Over 65% had a previous HIV test. However, 12% of men and 18% of transvestites never knew the result.

Conclusions: Even though the regular use of condom is accepted as a prevention tool for most SW, data collected showed a lack of information and misconception regarding routes of transmission, diseases and the risk they are exposed to at work.
These results may be helpful in order to improve informative and counseling workshops regarding HIV/AIDS in the SW community of Argentina.

-Abstract available at link below-

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