As a concentrated epidemic, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is spreading rapidly in one or more groups in Iran, but in the general population its prevalence is relatively low. Female sex workers (FSWs) and their partners are at greater risk for HIV infection. To determine the prevalence of HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including gonorrhoea, Chlamydia, herpes simplex type 2 and syphilis among FSWs. We conducted a cross-sectional study of 278 FSWs in Shiraz, by using respondent-driven sampling, from June to March 2010. The recruitment chain started with 14 seeds, and FSWs were tested for HIV, syphilis, herpes simplex type 2, gonorrhoea and Chlamydia. HIV prevalence was 4.7% (13/278); the most prevalent STI was herpes simplex type 2, 9.7% (27/278), followed by Chlamydia 9% (25/278), gonorrhoea 1.4% (4/278) and syphilis (0/278). The FSWs reported drug use (69.9%) of which 16.4% had history of injecting drug use. Unprotected sex in the past month was reported by 24.4% of FSWs. Urgent education and risk reduction programmes are needed in this population.
Keywords: AIDS; HIV; Iran; female sex workers; prevalence; respondent-driven sampling; sexually transmitted infections; women.