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Cult Health Sex. 2009 Feb;11(2):125-37. doi: 10.1080/13691050802431314.

Sex work in Mexico: vulnerability of male, travesti, transgender and transsexual sex workers.

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  • 1Center for Health Systems Research, Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica, México.


In Mexico, male sex workers (MSW) and travesti, transgender and transsexual (TTT) sex workers are among the groups most affected by HIV. They suffer from stigma and discrimination, yet are often absent from the design of programmes and HIV prevention campaigns. The objective of this study was to provide an account of the social context in which MSW and TTT sex workers live, by focusing on their sexual identities, sexual practices and vulnerability to HIV. Data collection took place in Mexico City and involved observational work together with 36 in-depth interviews. Findings reveal a differentiation of vulnerability by sub-group. In general, vulnerability is influenced by the social context, stigma related to homosexuality and sex work, as well as sex workers' access to scarce social capital and the lack of response in terms of social and health programmes. In order to diminish the vulnerability of MSW and TTT sex workers and reduce their risk of HIV infection, preventive measures are needed which take into account their specific health and social needs, promote meaningful participation and the encourage respect for human rights.

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