Spectrum of commercial sex activity in Burkina Faso: classification model and risk of exposure to HIV

J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2002 Apr 15;29(5):517-21. doi: 10.1097/00126334-200204150-00013.


Objective: Before designing a sexually transmitted infection (STI)/HIV intervention study targeting female commercial sex workers in Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, we conducted a socioanthropologic survey to analyze the prostitution network in the city in 1998. According to social characteristics, women were classified in six different categories, including four groups of nonprofessional sex workers. The aim of the current study is to assess HIV exposure across this classification model.

Methods: A total of 447 women belonging to the six categories were enrolled in the study. After collection of social and behavioral data by means of a questionnaire, each woman received a physical examination and a blood sample was taken for HIV serologic testing.

Results: The category of "seaters" was the most often infected, with an HIV prevalence of 57% (58 of 101 women). Nonprofessional "sellers" and "bar waitresses" were more often infected than professional "roamers," with an HIV prevalence of 37% (24 of 65 women), 40% (27 of 67 women), and 29% (27 of 92 women), respectively, despite a much lower number of clients per week (average of 2.6 clients, 3.3 clients, and 18.6 clients, respectively). Finally, "students" and "cabarets" (women making and selling local beer in huts) were infected with an HIV prevalence of 15% (9 of 62 women and 9 of 60 women, respectively), which remains higher than the prevalence measured recently in the general female population in the city (6.4%).

Conclusion: Our results highlight the high level of vulnerability of nonprofessional sex workers, who need to be considered in the design of any program targeting this population for STI/HIV control purposes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Burkina Faso / epidemiology
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Work*