Absence of infection with human immunodeficiency virus in Peruvian prostitutes

AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 1988 Dec;4(6):493-9. doi: 10.1089/aid.1988.4.493.


We serologically tested 140 female prostitutes (mean age, 30 years) from the port city of Callao, Peru, for evidence of infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Chlamydia trachomatis, Treponema pallidum, herpes simplex viruses (HSV) I and II, and hepatitis B virus. The women had worked as prostitutes for an average of 5 years; one-fourth serviced foreign visitors exclusively, mainly sailors. Only 4 women used condoms, and only 1 woman gave a history of parenteral narcotic abuse, although 53% were regularly exposed to unsterile needles outside the medical setting for injections of vitamins, antibiotics, or steroids; another 29% are thought to probably use unsterile needles. None of the 140 prostitutes screened was seropositive for HIV, despite a very high prevalence of antibody to T. pallidum (24%), C. trachomatis (97%), HSV I and II (100%), and hepatitis B (51%); 5% were HbsAg positive. These data indicate that HIV has not yet been introduced into female prostitutes in the Peruvian port city. We believe that widespread use of unsterile needles in developing countries, such as Peru, represents a serious health threat and will amplify the spread of HIV, once introduced.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • HIV Seropositivity / epidemiology*
  • HIV Seropositivity / transmission
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Peru
  • Sex Work*