Trends in HIV prevalence and associated risk behaviors in female sex workers in Catalonia (Spain)

Cinta Folch, Jordi Casabona, Cristina Sanclemente, Anna Esteve, Victoria González

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Objectives: To describe trends in HIV prevalence, sexual risk behaviors and other sexual health indicators in female sex workers (SW) from 2005 to 2011. Methods: Cross-sectional studies were conducted biennially among SW recruited in Catalonia (Spain) in the street, flats and clubs (n = 400). In addition to an anonymous questionnaire, oral fluid samples were collected to estimate HIV prevalence. Linear trends in proportions were assessed by the Mantel test. Results: The percentage of SW who used condoms inconsistently with clients (past 6 months) increased from 5.1% in 2005 to 9.9% in 2011 (p = 0.005); this percentage also increased with steady partners (86.2% in 2005 to 94.4% in 2011, p = 0.002). The prevalence of self-reported sexually transmitted infections (STI) increased from 14% in 2005 to 20.6% in 2011 (p = 0.001). The prevalence of HIV held constant over the years (about 2%), being higher in Spanish women (14.7% in 2011). Discussion: The prevalence of HIV in SW remained stable over the years, being higher in Spanish SW. The increase in unprotected sex and in the prevalence of self-reported STI among SW from 2005 to 2011 highlights a possible relaxation in preventive behaviors in this group. Interventions to reduce the transmission of these infections, as well as unwanted pregnancies, should continue in Catalonia in SW. © 2013 SESPAS.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-202
JournalGaceta Sanitaria
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Cross-sectional studies
  • HIV
  • Sex workers
  • Sexual behavior
  • Sexually-transmitted infections


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