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Sex Health. 2013 May;10(2):142-5. doi: 10.1071/SH12114.

The prevalence of sexually transmissible infections among female sex workers from countries with low and high prevalences in Melbourne.

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Melbourne School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, 580 Swanston Street, Carlton, Vic. 3053, Australia.



To assess the proportion of female sex workers (FSWs) from low-prevalence ('other') and high-prevalence countries (HPCs) for sexually transmissible infections (STIs) in Melbourne.


Retrospective data analysis from the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre database for February 2002-May 2011.


Some 1702 HPC FSWs, 2594 other FSWs and 13?644 nonFSW women were included, with 12?891 and 21?611 consultations, respectively, for HPC FSWs and other FSWs. Proportions of HPC FSWs with chlamydia (Chlamydia trachomatis) (4.2% v. 3.3%, P=0.14), gonorrhoea (Neisseria gonorrhoeae) (0.24% v. 0.31%, P=0.66) or trichomonas (0.65 v. 0.46, P=0.42) at first visit were similar to those of other FSWs, but nonFSWs had a higher prevalence of chlamydia and gonorrhoea (P<0.01). On return visits, chlamydia (1.2% v. 0.92%, P<0.05) and gonorrhoea (0.29% v. 0.10%, P=<0.05) were more common in HPC FSWs than other FSWs. The presence of any of these STIs among FSWs was predicted by having private nonpaying partners in the last year (adjusted odds ratio (AOR): 1.99 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.52-2.61)), having private partners from overseas (AOR: 1.69 (95% CI: 1.33-2.16)) and being a HPC FSW (AOR: 1.38 (95% CI: 1.12-1.72)). Injecting drug use was less common in HPC FSWs than in other FSWs (0.82% v. 16.54%, P<0.0001).


STI prevalence was low among FSWs from countries with high and low background STI. Among FSWs having private sex partners and private partners from overseas were the primary predictors for STIs.

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