Introduction: Although interventions to control HIV among high-risk groups such as female sex workers (FSW) are highly recommended in Africa, the contents and efficacy of these interventions are unclear. We therefore designed a comprehensive dedicated intervention targeting young FSW and assessed its impact on HIV incidence in Burkina Faso.
Methods: Between September 2009 and September 2011 we conducted a prospective, interventional cohort study of FSW aged 18 to 25 years in Ouagadougou, with quarterly follow-up for a maximum of 21 months. The intervention combined prevention and care within the same setting, consisting of peer-led education sessions, psychological support, sexually transmitted infections and HIV care, general routine health care and reproductive health services. At each visit, behavioural characteristics were collected and HIV, HSV-2 and pregnancy were tested. We compared the cohort HIV incidence with a modelled expected incidence in the study population in the absence of intervention, using data collected at the same time from FSW clients.
Results: The 321 HIV-uninfected FSW enrolled in the cohort completed 409 person-years of follow-up. No participant seroconverted for HIV during the study (0/409 person-years), whereas the expected modelled number of HIV infections were 5.05/409 person-years (95% CI, 5.01-5.08) or 1.23 infections per 100 person-years (p=0.005). This null incidence was related to a reduction in the number of regular partners and regular clients, and by an increase in consistent condom use with casual clients (adjusted odds ratio (aOR)=2.19; 95% CI, 1.16-4.14, p=0.01) and with regular clients (aOR=2.18; 95% CI, 1.26-3.76, p=0.005).
Conclusions: Combining peer-based prevention and care within the same setting markedly reduced the HIV incidence among young FSW in Burkina Faso, through reduced risky behaviours.
Keywords: Africa; HIV; female sex workers; incidence.