Associations Between Violence and HIV Risk Behaviors Differ by Perpetrator Among Russian Sex Workers


Violence is associated with HIV and HIV risk behaviors among female sex workers (FSW). However, few studies assess multiple forms of violence and multiple HIV risk behaviors to build a comprehensive picture of how violence is implicated in HIV risk. Using respondent-driven sampling, 754 FSW were recruited in the Russian Federation. Surveys collected data on lifetime exposure to client, police, intimate partner, and pimp violence, as well as recent HIV risk behavior in the forms of injecting drug use (IDU), and inconsistent condom use with intimate partners and clients. Multivariable log-binomial and Poisson regression were used to assess associations between violence and HIV risk behavior outcomes. Lifetime client (31.7%), police (16.0%), intimate partner (15.7%), and pimp (11.4%) violence were prevalent. IDU (10.7%) and inconsistent condom use with intimate partners (45.1%) and clients (22.5%) were common. Intimate partner violence (IPV) and client violence were associated with IDU (ARRIPV 2.12, 95% CI 1.10, 4.10; ARRClient 2.75, 95% CI 1.19, 6.32), IPV and police violence were associated with inconsistent condom use with intimate partners (ARRIPV 1.10, 95% CI 1.01, 1.19; ARRPolice 1.11, 95% CI 1.01, 1.21), and IPV and police violence were associated with inconsistent condom use with clients (ARRIPV 1.49, 95% CI 1.02, 2.17; ARRPolice 1.65, 95% CI 1.19, 2.29). Each perpetrator-specific type of violence was associated with a unique set of HIV risk behaviors. Comprehensive violence prevention programming that addresses multiple perpetrators of violence against FSW, including clients, intimate partners and police, is critical for reducing sexual and drug-related HIV risk in FSW.

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We thank the sex workers who participated in this study, Svetlana Sadretdinova and her team at the Simona Clinic (Kazan, Russia), Marina Malisheva and Julia Burdina and their team at the Krasnyi Yar program (Krasnoyarsk, Russia), Nadezhda Ziryanova and Anna Petrova and their team at the Belaya Siren Project (Tomsk, Russia). We thank TuQuynh K. Le for her assistance creating Fig. 1.


This work was supported by the Global Fund (Open Health Institute). Research reported in this publication was supported by NIDA of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number F31 DA040558. This publication resulted in part from research supported by the Johns Hopkins University Center for AIDS Research, an NIH funded Program (P30AI094189), which is supported by the following NIH Co-Funding and Participating Institutes and Centers: NIAID, NCI, NICHD, NHLBI, NIDA, NIMH, NIA, FIC, NIGMS, NIDDK, and OAR. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.

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Correspondence to Sarah M. Peitzmeier.

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Peitzmeier, S.M., Wirtz, A.L., Peryshkina, A. et al. Associations Between Violence and HIV Risk Behaviors Differ by Perpetrator Among Russian Sex Workers. AIDS Behav 24, 812–822 (2020).

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  • Sex work
  • HIV
  • Violence
  • Russia
  • Condoms
  • Injection drug use