Transactional sex is associated with socioeconomic disadvantage and HIV risk but few studies in the United States (US) have examined both individual and area-level predictors of transactional sex or distinguished transactional sex from sex work. We combined data from HIV Prevention Trials Network 064 study and the US Census to estimate prevalence ratios (PR) for the relationship between census-level and individual measures of economic deprivation and housing instability on transactional sex in 417 women in North Carolina. Increased transactional sex was associated with food insecurity (PR 1.86; 95%; CI 1.57, 2.19), housing instability (PR 1.33; 95% CI 1.11, 1.59), substance abuse (PR 1.90; 95% CI 1.64, 2.19) and partner incarceration (PR 1.32; 95% CI 1.09, 1.61). Census-level indicators were not associated with transactional sex, adjusted for individual-level covariates. Interventions should support housing stability and financial opportunities among southern African American women to reduce HIV risk, particularly among women with incarcerated partners.
Keywords: Economic deprivation; Housing instability; Multilevel; Transactional sex.