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Sex Transm Dis. 1999 Nov;26(10):593-600.

Sexually transmitted diseases and condom use among female freelance and brothel-based sex workers in Singapore.

Author information

1
Department of Community, Occupational and Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, National University of Singapore. cofwml@leonis.nus.edu.sg

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:

Most studies in Asia exclude freelance female sex workers because of difficulties in access and the illegality of their work. Data are lacking on their risk behaviors.

GOAL:

To compare sexually transmitted disease (STD) rates, condom use, and health screening behavior between freelance and brothel-based sex workers in Singapore.

STUDY DESIGN:

This is a cross-sectional survey of 111 free-lance sex workers arrested from November 1996 to March 1997 for illicit prostitution and 333 randomly selected brothel-based sex workers. All were tested for STDs.

RESULTS:

STDs were significantly more prevalent among freelance than brothel-based sex workers (34.8% vs. 24.0%). Inconsistent condom use was significantly higher among freelance than brothel-based sex workers and was significantly associated with younger age, decreasing number of clients, and perception of non-condom use among peers.

CONCLUSION:

Educational programs to promote condom use should target freelance sex workers and their clients.

PIP:

This study compares the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), condom use, and health-screening behavior between freelance and brothel-based sex workers in Singapore. A total of 111 female freelance sex workers arrested from November 1996 to March 1997 for illicit prostitution were interviewed; 333 brothel-based sex workers served as the comparison group for the analysis. STD test results revealed that freelance sex workers (34.8%) have higher STD rates than brothel-based sex workers (24%). The two most common STDs in both groups were chlamydial cervicitis and syphilis. Moreover, condom use was significantly lower among freelance sex workers than brothel-based sex workers and was associated with younger age (25 years old), decreasing number of clients, and perception of non-condom use among peers. In addition, freelance workers were more educated and had equally high knowledge on STDs and AIDS. Since most of these freelance workers practice high-risk behaviors and poor health screening behaviors such as not going for regular medical check-ups, STD services and education programs should target this group.

PMID:
10560725
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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