HIV prevalence among the female sex workers in major cities in Myanmar and the risk behaviors associated with it
Lin Aung Swe,1 Abdul Rashid2
1Beneficial Partner Group, Bahan Township, Myanmar; 2Department of Public Health Medicine, Penang Medical College, Georgetown, Malaysia
Background: Myanmar is one of the countries hardest hit by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic in Asia.
Aim: The objective of the study was to determine HIV prevalence among the female sex workers in major cities in Myanmar and the risk behaviors associated with it.
Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted among female sex workers in major cities in Myanmar. Interviews were conducted by trained research assistants, in private, using a questionnaire. The HIV status of the respondents was asked and confirmed by the blood test reports from the laboratories of the Myanmar National AIDS Programme sexually transmitted infections (STI)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) Teams and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
Results: There were 200 respondents in this study. Out of the 136 participants who were tested for HIV, 25 (18.4%) were HIV-positive. Respondents of other ethnic groups than Myanmars and other religions than Buddhist were about six times (odds ratio [OR] 5.9) and five times (OR 4.6), respectively, at higher odds of being HIV-positive. Those who were earning an income of less than 200,000 kyats were almost three times (OR 2.9) at higher odds of being HIV-positive. The difference in the age group was found to be statistically significant (P = 0.001). Respondents who did not have HIV counseling (OR 7.3), who did not use condoms (OR 1.3), and with regular partners who refused the use of condoms (OR 6.0) were at higher odds of being HIV-positive.
Conclusion: HIV prevention services should include socioeconomic support programs, and the clients and regular partners of sex workers should also be targeted for behavior-change messages, to reduce condom resistance.
Keywords: HIV prevalence, risk factors, Myanmar, sex workers, condom
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