Objective: To describe the sociodemographic characteristics, work conditions, sexual behavior, and prevalence of HIV, hepatitis B (HBV), and hepatitis C (HCV) infection and of other sexually transmitted infections among a group of female immigrant prostitutes in Madrid.
Methods: We performed a descriptive study of a group of immigrant women who worked as prostitutes and who attended a sexually transmitted diseases (STD) clinic in Madrid in 1999 and 2000. Information was collected on sociodemographic characteristics, work conditions, use of injected drugs, and sexual practices with their clients and in their private lives. The services provided included screening for the main STDs and serological studies for HIV, HBV and HCV.
Results: A total of 579 female immigrants were analyzed. The mean age was 28.7 years. Ninety-six percent were from Latin America. None reported having consumed injected drugs. They began to work as prostitutes at a mean age of 27.4 years and 93.3% of them began in Spain. In the previous month, 98% had always used condoms for vaginal and anal penetrations with their clients and 17.6% had used them in their private sexual relations. Thirty percent reported condom breakage during intercourse. The prevalence of HIV and HCV infection was 0.2 and 0.9%, respectively; 8.1% showed HIV anticore antibodies and 0.5% showed surface antigens. An ulcerative STD was diagnosed in 2.1% and a non-ulcerative STD was diagnosed in 16%.
Conclusions: Condoms are generally used with clients although the frequency of breakage is high. Condom use in prostitutes personal lives is dramatically lower. The prevalence of markers for HIV, HBV and HCV is low and the frequency of STD is moderate.