, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 551-558
Date: 04 Jul 2012

Gender Based Violence as a Risk Factor for HIV-Associated Risk Behaviors Among Female Sex Workers in Armenia

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Abstract

This cross-sectional study identified the prevalence of gender based violence (GBV) and examined its association with sexual risk behavior among female sex workers (FSWs). Among 120 participants between ages 20 and 52, a total of 56.7 % reported lifetime GBV. Multivariate analyses revealed that GBV was significantly associated with inconsistent condom use, unprotected sex, condom misuse, fear of client reaction to requests of condom use, self-reported history of STIs, and earlier age of initiation of sex work. GBV must be considered an urgent public health priority among FSWs in Armenia. Interventions addressing FSWs, in addition to targeting skill-based, sexual risk reduction must also introduce a discourse among FSWs, sexual partners, clients and community members about the role of GBV in HIV-associated risk behaviors and infection. Structural level initiatives must address economic opportunities for women, health-sector policies and responses to FSWs’ health needs, law enforcement training and societal norms toward women.