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Int J STD AIDS. 2008 Oct;19(10):660-4. doi: 10.1258/ijsa.2008.008099.

Commercial sex and HIV transmission in mature epidemics: a study of five African countries.

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  • 1Institut Pasteur, Epid√©miologie des Maladies Emergentes, Paris, France.


The study compares the association between using the services of commercial sex workers and male HIV seroprevalence in five African countries: Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi and Rwanda. The HIV seroprevalence among men who 'ever paid for sex' was compared with controls who 'never paid for sex'. Results were based on 12,929 eligible men, aged 15-59 years, interviewed in Demographic and Health Surveys. The odds ratio of HIV seroprevalence associated with ever paying for sex was 1.89 (95% confidence interval = 1.57-2.28), with only minor differences by country. The results were stable in multivariate analysis after controlling for available potential cofactors (data on non-sexual routes of transmission were not available). Given the relatively small proportion of men involved, the risk attributable to 'ever paying for sex' remained low: 7.1% in univariate analysis and 4.4% after adjustment, and it varied among countries (range 1.3-9.4%). These results match previous observations that commercial sex seems to play a minor role in the spread of HIV in mature epidemics.

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