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Glob Public Health. 2013;8(4):405-16. doi: 10.1080/17441692.2013.779386. Epub 2013 Mar 27.

Venue-level correlates of female sex worker registration status: a multilevel analysis of bars in Tijuana, Mexico.

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  • 1Division of Global Public Health, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA.


In Tijuana, Mexico, sex work is regulated by the municipal government, through registration cards issued to female sex workers (FSWs) for an annual fee. Registration has been associated with decreased drug use and increase condom use and HIV testing. Previously, it was demonstrated that FSWs operating in bars were more likely than street-based FSWs to be registered. This implies that certain venues may be more accessible to local authorities for the enforcement of this type of programme. Taking a novel multilevel approach, we examined whether venue characteristics of bars reflecting greater organised management and visibility affect registration status of FSWs. In an analysis of venue-level characteristics, predictors of being registered were availability of free condoms at work and distance to the main sex strip; however, these were not independently associated after inclusion of FSWs' income, illicit drug use and history of HIV testing. Our findings suggest that sex work regulations may inadvertently exclude venues in which the more vulnerable and less visible FSWs, such as injection drug users and those with limited financial resources, are situated. Efforts to revise or reconsider sex work regulations to ensure that they best promote FSWs' health, human and labour rights are recommended.

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