Objectives To assess attitudes to HIV risk and acceptability of rapid HIV testing among clients of street-based female sex workers (FSW) in Lausanne, Switzerland, where HIV prevalence in the general population is 0.4%.
Methods The authors conducted a cross-sectional study in the red light district of Lausanne for five nights in September of 2008, 2009 and 2010. Clients of FSW were invited to complete a questionnaire in the street assessing demographic characteristics, attitudes to HIV risk and HIV testing history. All clients interviewed were then offered anonymous finger stick rapid HIV testing in a van parked on-site.
Results The authors interviewed 112, 127 and 79 clients in 2008, 2009 and 2010, respectively. All were men, average age 32–37 years old; 40–60% were in a stable relationship. History of unprotected sex was higher with non-commercial partners (33–50%) than with FSW (6–11%); 29–46% of clients had never undergone an HIV test. Anonymous rapid HIV testing was accepted by 45–50% of clients. Out of 109 HIV tests conducted during the three study periods, none was reactive.
Conclusions On-site HIV counselling and testing is acceptable among clients of FSW in this urban setting. These individuals represent an unquantified population, a proportion of which has an incomplete understanding of HIV risk in the face of high-risk behaviour, with implications for potential onward transmission to non-commercial sexual partners.
- sex workers
- rapid HIV testing
- HIV testing
- infectious diseases
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