, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 475-483

Social Factors Related to Risk for Violence and Sexually Transmitted Infections/HIV Among Asian Massage Parlor Workers in San Francisco

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Abstract

Asian women who work at massage parlors in San Francisco have high levels of riskfor sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, and being victims of violence, which jeopardizes their health and wellbeing. On the basis of mapping, the targeted districts in San Francisco where massage parlors were located, 23 massage parlors were identified where commercial sex activity took place. Using snowball-sampling methods, 43 Asian female massage parlor workers were recruited for focus groups; 21 participants were Vietnamese and 22 were Thai. Qualitative analyses revealed frequent exposure to violence including verbal or physical abuse from customers and gang members, as well as persistent HIV risk behaviors associated with multiple daily sex partners, inconsistent condom use with customers, and forced sex. Social factors related to gender, immigration status, and socioeconomic status appeared to be closely tied to the health and wellbeing of Asian masseuses. Study findings suggest that individualized as well as community-level interventions are necessary to improve these women’s health and decreasetheir prolonged exposure to risks for STIs and violence.