Prevalence of HIV infection and risk behaviour among street prostitutes in Rome, 1997-1998

AIDS Care. 2001 Jun;13(3):367-72. doi: 10.1080/09540120120044017.


A cross-sectional survey was carried out between April 1997 and February 1998 among street prostitutes in Rome. The study population (n = 142) consisted of 102 women and 40 transsexuals: 20% from Western Europe, 38% Eastern Europe, 23% Latin America and 17% Africa. Two-thirds of the population had more than 20 clients during the last week and most respondents (95%) reported always using condoms with clients. Eight per cent of the women and 2% of the transsexuals report a history of injecting drug use. Only 38% of the women with a stable partner reported use of contraceptives and 33% of them had undergone a voluntary abortion during the last year. Only 38% of the women had been checked for STDs during the last year, compared with 80% of the transsexuals. The HIV-prevalence was 6% among the women and 20% among the transsexuals. Four out of the six positive women and one of the positive transsexuals had a history of injecting drug use. Five out of the six HIV-positive women were Italian. Transsexual prostitutes seem to pay more attention to their medical wellbeing compared with females who rarely go for medical check-ups and only a minority uses efficient contraceptive methods.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Africa / ethnology
  • Condoms / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Europe / ethnology
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • HIV Seropositivity / epidemiology
  • HIV Seropositivity / psychology
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Latin America / ethnology
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Rome / epidemiology
  • Sex Work / psychology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Transsexualism / epidemiology