Background Until recently the only data on sexual health of sex workers (SWs) were from special studies. We used new STI surveillance data to investigate the characteristics and health outcomes of SWs visiting GUM clinics in England.
Aim To assess the sexual health needs of SWs.
Methods Provisional data from the GUM Clinic Activity Dataset (GUMCAD) on consultations by SWs (SHHAPT code SW) were analysed.
Results Reporting began on a rolling basis in 207 GUM clinics during 2011; 2305 SWs were reported from 83 clinics to date. Of these, 1908 were female and 397 male (including 29 MSM). Among female SWs, median age was 29 years, 69% were white and 65% born abroad (migrants). Of the migrants, 35% were from Eastern Europe (60% Romania) and 31% from South America (93% Brazil). The 1908 women made 3131 visits with 63% having a repeat visit within 6 months; 5.4% having chlamydia, 1.2% gonorrhoea, 1.8% genital warts, 1.6% genital herpes, 0.1% syphilis and 0.1% HIV. Migrant SWs were more likely than UK-born women to be seen in London clinics, and less likely to have a sexual health screen (67% vs 83%) or HIV test (67% vs 82%). Migrants were less likely to be diagnosed with chlamydia (4.4% vs 7.3%) or gonorrhoea (1.0% vs 1.5%) but more likely to have genital warts (2.4% vs 1.0%) or genital herpes (1.8% vs 1.3%).
Conclusions Overall STI rates among female SWs are low, particularly among migrants. Lower rates of HIV testing among migrants should be analysed further.
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