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Sexual and HIV risk behaviour in Central and Eastern European migrants in London
  1. Fiona M Burns1,
  2. Alison R Evans1,
  3. Catherine H Mercer1,
  4. Violetta Parutis2,
  5. Christopher J Gerry2,
  6. Richard C M Mole2,
  7. Rebecca S French3,
  8. John Imrie1,4,
  9. Graham J Hart1
  1. 1Centre for Sexual Health and HIV Research, Research Department of Infection and Population Health, University College London, London, UK
  2. 2The School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, London, UK
  3. 3Department of Social and Environmental Health Research, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  4. 4The Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Mtubatuba, South Africa
  1. Correspondence to Dr Fiona M Burns, UCL Centre for Sexual Health and HIV Research, Mortimer Market Centre, Off Capper Street, London WC1E 6JB, UK; f.burns{at}


Background Accession of 10 Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries to the EU resulted in the largest migratory influx in peacetime British history. No information exists on the sexual behaviour of CEE migrants within the UK. The aim of this study was to assess the sexual lifestyles and health service needs of these communities.

Methods A survey, delivered electronically and available in 12 languages, of migrants from the 10 CEE accession countries recruited from community venues in London following extensive social mapping and via the Internet. Reported behaviours were compared with those from national probability survey data.

Results 2648 CEE migrants completed the survey. Male CEE migrants reported higher rates of partner acquisition (adjusted OR (aOR) 2.1, 95% CI: 1.3 to 2.1) and paying for sex (aOR 3.2, 95% CI: 2.5 to 4.0), and both male and female CEE migrants reported more injecting drug use (men: aOR 2.2, 95% CI: 1.3 to 3.9; women: aOR 3.0, 95% CI 1.1 to 8.1), than the general population; however, CEE migrants were more likely to report more consistent condom use and lower reported diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections (STI). Just over 1% of respondents reported being HIV positive. Most men and a third of women were not registered for primary care in the UK.

Discussion CEE migrants to London report high rates of behaviours associated with increased risk of HIV/STI acquisition and transmission. These results should inform service planning, identify where STI and HIV interventions should be targeted, and provide baseline data to help evaluate the effectiveness of such interventions.

  • Sexual behaviour
  • migration
  • UK
  • Europe
  • knowledge and attitudes
  • epidemiology
  • health services research
  • HIV
  • immigrants
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  • Linked articles 046839, 049460, 046409.

  • Funding This research was supported by the MRC Sexual Health and HIV Research Strategy Committee (Grant: G0601703). The sponsor had no role in study design; the collection, analysis or interpretation of the data; the writing of the report; or the decision to submit the paper for publication.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Camden & Islington Community Research Ethics Committee, UK (07/H0722/110).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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