Structural and Interpersonal Benefits and Risks of Participation in HIV Research: Perspectives of Female Sex Workers in Guatemala

Ethics Behav. 2015;25(2):97-114. doi: 10.1080/10508422.2014.950270. Epub 2014 Aug 14.


This study explored perceived benefits and risks of participation in HIV research among 33 female sex workers in Tecun Uman, Guatemala. Stigma associated with sex work and HIV was a critical barrier to research participation. Key benefits of participation included access to HIV/STI prevention and testing, as well as positive and trusting relationships between sex workers and research teams. Control exerted by managers had mixed influences on perceived research risks and benefits. Results underscore the critical need for HIV investigators to develop population-tailored procedures to reduce stigma, engage managers, and reinforce trusting, reciprocal relationships between sex work communities and researchers.

Keywords: Central America; HIV; Sex workers; ethics; research participation; stigma; trust.