, Volume 13, Issue 5, pp 849-859
Date: 07 Mar 2008

Rapid Assessment of HIV Risk Behavior in Drug Using Sex Workers in Three Cities in South Africa

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Abstract

A rapid assessment was undertaken with drug using commercial sex workers (CSWs) to investigate practices putting them at risk for contracting HIV. It included key informant (KI) (N = 67) and focus group (N = 10) interviews in locations with a high prevalence of drug use in Cape Town, Durban and Pretoria, South Africa. HIV testing of KIs was conducted. Cocaine, Ecstasy, heroin and methaqualone are used by CSWs prior to, during and after sex. Drugs enhance the sexual experience and prolong sex sessions. Interviews revealed inconsistent condom use among CSWs together with other risky sexual practices such as needle sharing. Among CSWs who agreed to HIV testing, 34% tested positive. Barriers to accessing drug treatment and HIV treatment and preventive services were identified. Interventions recognizing the role of drug abuse in HIV transmission should be prioritized, and issues of access to services, stigma and power relations must be considered.