Situating HIV risk in the lives of formerly trafficked female sex workers on the Mexico-US border

AIDS Care. 2013;25(4):459-65. doi: 10.1080/09540121.2012.720361. Epub 2012 Sep 11.


Due to stigma and the psychosocial repercussions of past trauma and abuse, survivors of sex trafficking may experience increased susceptibility to violence, revictimization, and various harmful health outcomes, including HIV infection. Given the paucity of research characterizing the experiences of formerly trafficked female sex workers (FSWs), we set out to describe and contextualize perceptions of HIV risk among women who have experienced past episodes of sex trafficking and who are currently engaged in sex work in Tijuana, Mexico. Based on semi-structured interviews and ethnographic fieldwork, we describe the following interrelated themes as influencing formerly trafficked FSWs' perceptions and experiences of HIV risk: economic vulnerability; susceptibility to violence; and psychological trauma. Our findings highlight the need for HIV prevention efforts to incorporate broader structural and social interventions aimed at reducing vulnerability to violence and human rights abuses among this population and improving their general economic, psychological, and social well-being.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Crime Victims / psychology*
  • Crime Victims / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • Human Rights Abuses*
  • Humans
  • Mexico / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Offenses / psychology
  • Sex Offenses / statistics & numerical data
  • Sex Work
  • Sex Workers / psychology*
  • Social Stigma
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Unsafe Sex / psychology*
  • Unsafe Sex / statistics & numerical data
  • Violence / psychology*
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data
  • Vulnerable Populations

Grant support