Sexually transmitted infections among female sex workers in Hong Kong: the role of migration status

J Travel Med. 2011 Jan-Feb;18(1):1-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1708-8305.2010.00453.x. Epub 2010 Nov 5.


Objectives: Female sex workers (FSW) have been considered reservoirs and vectors of sexually transmitted infections (STI) in the community. This study estimated the prevalence of STI/human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) among FSW of various migration and residential status in Hong Kong and identified possible risk factors.

Methods: An outreach "Well-women" clinic was set up at Ziteng, a non-governmental organization working with FSW. Details of their lifestyle and health risk behavior were gathered before screening tests were performed, and the data were analyzed according to their place of origin.

Results: A total of 503 FSW were screened for STI/HIV between 2005 and 2007. Syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HIV accounted for 1.8, 1.8, 4.6, and 0.2%, respectively. After adjusting for confounders, having ≥ 2 sexual partners (odds ratio [OR] 8.33, 95%CI: 2.17-33.46), residence status (OR 0.38, 95%CI: 0.17-0.89), and daily frequency of douching (OR 3.02, 95%CI: 1.23-7.35) were identified as significant predictors.

Conclusions: This study provides important insights on the screening and associated risk factors of STI among FSW working in Hong Kong. The contextual factors identified reflect the social and geographical context in which these women are operating and how they protect their health using their own means. These findings encourage policymakers and health professionals to redirect their focus and resources to a more holistic approach to sexual health when planning and implementing effective STI/HIV prevention programs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Condoms / statistics & numerical data
  • Emigration and Immigration / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Hong Kong / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Self Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Sex Work / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sexual Partners
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / prevention & control
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Unsafe Sex / statistics & numerical data
  • Women's Health
  • Women, Working / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult