Background: Sex workers are a heterogenous group and recent reports of declining incidence of sexually transmitted infections do not imply to all populations. This is an observational study of street-based sex workers attending an inner London genito-urinary clinic between 01/07/06 and 31/01/07.
Methods: In July 2006 the local sex worker outreach project developed a weekly drop-in for street based sex workers. From the drop-in, sex workers were fast-tracked to attend a range of dedicated health services, including the genito-urinary clinic.
Results: The outreach team made contact with one hundred and twenty street-based sex workers in the borough. Forty of these attended the drop in and twenty five attended the genito-urinary clinic. Eight had tuberculosis. There were frequent reports of recent recreational drug use, unprotected sex with clients and no reliable contraception. Seven were pregnant. Six were HIV positive and twelve had positive syphilis serology. A further seventeen sexually transmitted infections were identified.
Conclusions There was a high frequency of HIV, syphilis, other bacterial sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy among sex workers attending this clinic. There are considerable amounts of other physical ill-health in this group, with frequently reported risky sexual behaviour. This study demonstrates the need for targeted development work to meet the multifactorial needs of these women.
- commercial sex work
- sexually transmitted infections
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