Acceptability of a microenterprise intervention among female sex workers in Chennai, India

AIDS Behav. 2010 Jun;14(3):649-57. doi: 10.1007/s10461-010-9686-z.


Female sex workers have been central in India's HIV epidemic since it was first diagnosed among them in 1989. Female sex workers' risk of HIV is primarily economically motivated. The Pi pilot study examined the feasibility and association of a microenterprise intervention, the tailoring of canvas bags, on sexual risk behaviors among female sex workers (N = 100) in Chennai. Women were randomized to an intervention or control arm. Between-group comparisons at baseline and at six-month follow-up were performed. Multivariate linear regression with bootstrapping was conducted to estimate the intervention effect. At baseline, women were a median of 35 years old, 61% were married and they had an average of two children. Intervention participants reported a significantly lower number of sex partners and significant increases in income at the 6-month follow-up compared to control participants. In a multivariate model, intervention participants had a significantly lower number of paying clients per month at follow-up compared to control participants. By graduation, 75% of intervention arm participants had made at least one sellable canvas bag and 6 months after the study's end, 60% have continued involvement in bag production. The pilot study demonstrated that microenterprise interventions are successful in both providing FSWs with licit income opportunities and was associated with reductions in HIV risk behaviors.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Commerce*
  • Economics*
  • Employment / methods*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • Health Education
  • Humans
  • Income
  • India
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Risk-Taking
  • Self Efficacy
  • Sex Work* / psychology
  • Sexual Behavior