Food Insecurity Increases HIV Risk Among Young Sex Workers in Metro Vancouver, Canada
This research aimed to determine the effect of food insecurity on sexual HIV risk with clients among youth sex workers (YSWs) <30 years in Metro Vancouver, Canada. Data were drawn from a prospective community cohort of sex workers (2010–2013). We examined the independent relationship between YSWs’ food insecurity and being pressured into sex without a condom by clients (“client condom refusal”). Of 220 YSWs, 34.5 % (n = 76) reported client condom refusal over the 3.5-year study period and 76.4 % (n = 168) reported any food insecurity. Adjusting for other HIV risk pathways, food insecurity retained an independent effect on client condom refusal (AOR 2.08, 95 % CI 1.23–3.51), suggesting that food insecurity is significantly associated with HIV risk among YSWs. This study indicates a critical relationship between food insecurity and HIV risk, and demonstrates YSWs’ particular vulnerability. Public policies for food assistance as a harm reduction measure may be key to addressing this disparity.