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Migrant men: a priority for HIV control in Pakistan?

Abstract

Objectives: To assess sexual risk behaviour and prevalence of treatable sexually transmitted infections (STI) in migrant male workers in Lahore, Pakistan.

Methods: Behavioural interviews were conducted on a representative sample of 590 migrant men aged 20–49 years. Biological samples were collected from a subsample of 190 and tested for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and syphilis.

Results: Over half (55%) of single men were sexually experienced and 36% of married men reported premarital sex. The median ages at first intercourse and first marriage were 21 years and 28 years, respectively. In the total sample (including virgins), 13% reported any female non-marital partner in the past 12 months, 7% contact with a female sex worker, and 2% sex with a man. Only 10% reported using a condom during most recent contact with a sex worker. STI symptoms in the past 3 months were reported by 8% of men. Laboratory tests disclosed that STI prevalence was 3.2%.

Conclusions: If and when HIV infection spreads among sex workers in Lahore, the reported behaviour of migrant men suggests that they may act as a conduit for further transmission to the general population. Condom promotion focused on the sex trade is likely to be the most effective way of reducing this risk.

  • IDU, injecting drug users
  • PCR, polymerase chain reaction
  • RPR, rapid protein reagin
  • STI, sexually transmitted infections
  • TPHA, Treponema pallidum haemagglutination assay
  • Pakistan
  • migrants
  • sex workers
  • sexual behaviour
  • condoms
  • HIV
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