AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 13, Issue 5, pp 849–859 | Cite as

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

  • Charles D. H. Parry
  • Sarah Dewing
  • Petal Petersen
  • Tara Carney
  • Richard Needle
  • Karen Kroeger
  • Latasha Treger
Original Paper


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.


South Africa Drug use HIV transmission Risk factors Sex work 



The research was funded by the US President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC or PEPFAR. The authors would also like to acknowledge the support of our fields work staff and NGOs in Cape Town, Durban, and Pretoria; and Angeli Achrekar and Thelma Williams who assisted the project as part of the CDC International Experience and Technical Assistance (IETA) Program.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles D. H. Parry
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sarah Dewing
    • 1
  • Petal Petersen
    • 1
  • Tara Carney
    • 1
  • Richard Needle
    • 3
  • Karen Kroeger
    • 3
  • Latasha Treger
    • 4
  1. 1.Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research UnitMedical Research CouncilTygerberg, Cape TownSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryStellenbosch UniversityTygerbergSouth Africa
  3. 3.National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention, Global AIDS ProgramU.S. Centers for Disease Control & PreventionAtlantaUSA
  4. 4.CDC, Global AIDS Program, South AfricaPretoriaSouth Africa

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