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HIV in female sex workers in five border provinces of Vietnam
  1. N V Thuong1,
  2. V T Nhung1,
  3. K V Nghia1,
  4. L T Tram1,
  5. N O’Farrell2
  1. 1Pasteur Institute, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  2. 2Pasteur Suite, Ealing Hospital and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Nigel O’Farrell
 Pasteur Suite, Ealing Hospital, London UB1 3HW, UK; ofarrell{at}


Objectives: To determine the prevalence of HIV and associated risk factors among female sex workers (FSWs) in border provinces of Vietnam.

Methods: 911 FSWs in five border provinces of Vietnam (Lai Chau, Quang Tri, Dong Thap, An Giang, and Kien Giang) were enrolled in a cross sectional study. Subjects were interviewed using a standardised questionnaire about selected sociodemographic and behavioural characteristics, history of STIs, and information about their cohabiting partners (husbands or live-in partners). Serological tests were done for HIV and syphilis (TPHA+RPR) and urine tests (PCR) for chlamydia and gonorrhoea. Associations between HIV and selected features of FSWs and their partners were examined using univariate and multivariate logistic regression analysis.

Results: Overall, the prevalence of HIV among FSWs in the five provinces of Vietnam was 4.5%. The prevalence of HIV was higher in the southern border regions (4.0%–7.0%) than the northern (2%) and central (1%) regions. In multivariate analysis between HIV and selected features of FSWs, income ⩽$33/month (OR 2.36, p = 0.04), age of first sex ⩽15 (OR = 5.48, p = 0.005), and ⩾9 clients per week (OR 2.80, p = 0.018) were associated with HIV infection. Positive syphilis serology achieved a borderline significant association with HIV (OR 2.30, p = 0.095). Having a regular non-paying partner (OR = 0.35, p = 0.060) was a borderline protective factor for HIV.

Conclusion: Interventions to limit HIV transmission among FSWs in Vietnam should be implemented early and focus on young poor populations in these border areas.

  • DFSWs, direct female sex workers
  • FSWs, female sex workers
  • IDU, injecting drug use
  • PCR, polymerase chain reaction
  • RPR, rapid plasma regain
  • STI, sexually transmitted diseases
  • TPHA, Treponema pallidum haemagglutination assay
  • female sex workers
  • HIV
  • Vietnam

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