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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2011 Sep 1;117(2-3):226-32. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2011.02.006. Epub 2011 Mar 12.

Knowledge of HIV seropositivity is a predictor for initiation of illicit drug use: incidence of drug use initiation among female sex workers in a high HIV-prevalence area of China.

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  • 1Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Beijing, PR China.



Drug use and sex work have had facilitative roles in the transmission of HIV/AIDS in China. Stopping drug use among sex workers may help to control the growth of the HIV/AIDS epidemic among Chinese sex workers.


From March 2006 to November 2009, female sex workers (FSW) in Kaiyuan City, Yunnan, China were recruited into an open cohort study. Participants were interviewed and tested for drug use and HIV/sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevalence. Follow-up surveys were conducted every six months. Multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression model with time dependent variables was used to measure the associations between independent variables and drug initiation.


During the course of the study, 66 (8.8%) FSWs initiated drug use yielding an overall incidence of 6.0 per 100 person years (PY) (95% confidence interval [CI], 4.67-7.58). In the multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression model, being HIV-positive and aware of positive serostatus (adjusted hazard ratio [AHR] 2.6, 95% CI 1.24-5.55), age at initiation of commercial sex work <20 years (AHR 1.8, 95% CI 1.12-3.01), and working in a high-risk establishment (AHR 1.9, 95% CI 1.14-3.04) were associated with illicit drug initiation.


Being HIV-positive and aware of positive serostatus was the most salient predictor for the initiation of illicit drug use. Interventions offering sources of education, treatment, support, and counseling to HIV-positive FSWs need to be implemented in order to help promote self-efficacy and safe behaviors among this group of high-risk women.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

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