Objective: Despite the rapid spread of India's HIV epidemic through commercial sex and the large numbers of minor girls trafficked to India for sex work each year, little HIV research has been conducted among victims of sex trafficking. The present study examines the prevalence and predictors of HIV infection among sex-trafficked women and girls rescued from brothels in Mumbai, India.
Design and methods: Case records and HIV testing results of sex-trafficked women and girls (N = 175) were reviewed. HIV prevalence and HIV risk were assessed based on demographics and exposure to sex work.
Results: Approximately one quarter (22.9%) of trafficked individuals tested positive for HIV. The mean age at trafficking was marginally younger for women and girls infected with HIV (15.9 years) as compared to those not infected (17.2 years; P = 0.06). Girls trafficked as minors reported longer periods of brothel confinement as compared to those trafficked at older ages (18.5 vs. 9.6 months; P = 0.007). Among Indian victims, those trafficked from the states of Karnataka or Maharashtra were more likely than those trafficked from West Bengal to be HIV-positive (odds ratio [OR] = 7.35, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.23 to 24.21). Longer duration in brothels was associated with greater likelihood of HIV infection; a 3% to 4% increased risk for HIV was observed for each additional month of brothel captivity.
Conclusions: Findings demonstrate the need for increased attention to HIV among young victims of sex trafficking in research and practice, and to the rescue of sex trafficking victims as a form of HIV prevention.