Commercial sex plays a critical role in the transmission of HIV/STI infections in mainland China because female sex workers (FSWs), who tend to be either street-based (SSWs) or brothel-based (BSWs), are extremely prevalent. These two groups had different behaviors and treatment. Few studies investigated due to SSWs group is difficult to reach.
A cross-sectional survey was conducted in Yunnan Province of China with 129 street-based and 185 brothel-based participants. Peer educators conducted anonymous, face-to-face interviews to collect data on socio-demographic characteristics, HIV/STIs-related knowledge, sex work history, sex behaviours, experience of receiving healthcare service, and experience of abuse from clients. Blood samples were taken for HIV and syphilis testing. Urine samples were taken for gonorrhoea and chlamydia testing.
Significant differences on socio-economic characters and HIV/STIs prevalence are found between the two types of FSWs. SSWs are older than BSWs; have less education, more dependents, and more clients in one week; receive less healthcare services; and have a higher prevalence of HIV/STIs. Binary logistic regression model results showed that venue for sex trade and experience of HIV testing were significantly associated with the prevalence of HIV/STIs
The SSWs are at lower socio-economic status and have high HIV/STIs mobility, who are more marginalized, receive less healthcare and are, thus, more vulnerable. China’s next step in healthcare intervention should focus on the most hard-to-reach-marginalised groups. HIV/STIs testing and socio-psychological support programmes are urgent needed for these neglected people.