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Sexual behaviour, knowledge, attitude and practices regarding HIV/AIDS amongst female sex workers (FSWs) in red light area of Mumbai city

Purushottam A Giri, Renuka C Hiremath, Abhiram M Kasbe.

Background: HIV/AIDS is not only a public health problem but also a social, political and economic challenge. The key concern with HIV infection is not only about infected person, but also about the chain of people infected by that individual and that h/she will probably infect in the future. The prevalence of HIV infection in India has been steadily increasing over the past few decades. Commercial sex workers and their clients are at highest risk for HIV infection and transmission.

Objective: The present study describes the sexual behaviour, knowledge, attitude and practices in context to HIV/AIDS amongst female sex workers (FSWs) in red light area of Mumbai city.

Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional community based study was conducted among female sex workers in red light area of Mumbai city during period of October 2008 to September 2009. A total 103 female sex workers were selected and interviewed. The statistical analysis was performed using SPSS software (version 13.0).
Results: In the present study, the mean age of the FSWs was 26.4 5.2 years and 43.8% belonged to lower middle class socio-economic status. Most of the FSWs responded poverty (84%) and broken family (76%) as the main reasons for resorting to the sex trade. Majority of the FSWs (72.8%) were illiterate and more than half (67%) did not have any children. Most of the FSWs (84.5%) were aware about HIV/AIDS but only 33% were aware of the status of their partner. Only 13.6% FSWs knew that HIV could be transmitted to the child through breast feeding from an infected mother.

Conclusion: Misconception about HIV was very high. Most of the FSWs in the present study had first sexual debut at a very young age. Routine screening and periodic surveys are warranted in order for early detection of infections including HIV and other STDs.

Key words: Female Sex Workers; HIV/AIDS; Knowledge; Attitude; Practice; Sexual Behaviour

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