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AIDS. 1995 Jul;9 Suppl 1:S21-30.

Impact of an intervention on HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, and condom use among sex workers in Bombay, India.

Author information

  • 1AIDS Surveillance Center, Department of Microbiology, Seth G.S. Medical College, Bombay, India.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To develop and test an HIV intervention targeting sex workers and madams in the brothels of Bombay.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS:

In a controlled intervention trial, with measurements before and after the intervention, 334 sex workers and 20 madams were recruited from an intervention site, and 207 and 17, respectively, from a similar control site, both in red-light areas of Bombay. All sex workers were tested for antibodies to HIV and syphilis, and for hepatitis B surface antigen. Information on sexual practices, condom use and knowledge of HIV was collected by interviewer-administered questionnaire. All subjects in the intervention group underwent a 6-month program of educational videos, small group discussions and pictorial educational materials; free condoms were also distributed. The blood tests and the questionnaire were readministered to all subjects at both sites immediately after the intervention. Both groups were followed for approximately 1 year.

RESULTS:

The baseline level of knowledge about HIV and experience with condoms was extremely low among both sex workers and madams. The baseline prevalence of HIV antibodies was 47% in the intervention group and 41% in the control group (P = 0.17). The incidence densities for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases were significantly different in the two groups (all P < 0.005): 0.05 and 0.16 per person-year of follow-up for HIV, 0.08 and 0.22 per person-year for antibodies to syphilis, and 0.04 and 0.12 per person-year for hepatitis B surface antigen in the intervention and control women, respectively. Following the intervention, women reported increased levels of condom use, and some (41%) said they were willing to refuse clients who wouldn't use them. However, both the sex workers and the madams were concerned about losing business if condom use was insisted upon.

CONCLUSIONS:

Both HIV prevalence and incidence are alarmingly high among female sex workers in Bombay. Successful interventions can be developed for these women, and even a partial increase in condom use may decrease the transmission of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases. Intervention programs of longer duration that target madams and clients and make condoms easily available are urgently needed at multiple sites in red-light areas.

PIP:

The objective was to develop and test an HIV intervention targeting sex workers and madams in the brothels of Bombay. In a controlled intervention trial, with measurements before and after the intervention, 334 sex workers and 20 madams were recruited from an intervention site, and 207 and 17, respectively, from a similar control site, both in red-light areas of Bombay. All sex workers were tested for antibodies to HIV and syphilis, and for hepatitis B surface antigen. Information on sexual practices, condom use, and knowledge of HIV was collected by questionnaires. All subjects in the intervention group underwent a 6-month program of educational videos, small group discussions and pictorial educational materials; free condoms were also distributed. The blood tests and the questionnaire were readministered to all subjects at both sites immediately after the intervention. Both groups were followed for approximately 1 year. The baseline prevalence of HIV antibodies was 47% in the intervention group and 41% in the control group (p = 0.17). The incidence densities for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases were significantly different in the 2 groups (all p 0.005): 0.05 and 0.16 per person-year of follow-up for HIV, 0.08 and 0.22 per person-year for antibodies to syphilis, and 0.04 and 0.12 per person-year for hepatitis B surface antigen in the intervention and control women, respectively. Following the intervention, there was a significant increase in knowledge of modes of HIV transmission in the intervention group (n = 334) compared to the control group (n = 190) (60% vs. 99% compared to 56% vs. 26%, p 0.001). In addition, women reported increased levels of condom use and some (41%) said they were willing to refuse clients who would not use them. However, both the sex workers and 100% of the madams were concerned about losing business if condom use was insisted upon. Intervention programs of longer duration that target madams and clients and make condoms easily available are urgently needed.

PMID:
8561997
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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