Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 43, Issue 8, pp 1637–1650 | Cite as

Sex Work Among Men Who Have Sex with Men and Transgender Women in Bogotá

  • Fernanda T. Bianchi
  • Carol A. Reisen
  • Maria Cecilia Zea
  • Salvador Vidal-Ortiz
  • Felisa A. Gonzales
  • Fabián Betancourt
  • Marcela Aguilar
  • Paul J. Poppen
Original Paper


This qualitative study examined sex work among internally displaced male and transgender female sex workers in Bogotá, Colombia. Internal displacement has occurred in Colombia as a result of decades of conflict among armed groups and has created large-scale migration from rural to urban areas. Informed by the polymorphous model of sex work, which posits that contextual conditions shape the experience of sex work, we examined three main research questions. The first dealt with how internal displacement was related to the initiation of sex work; the second concerned the effect of agency on sex worker satisfaction; and the third examined how sex work in this context was related to HIV and other risks. Life history interviews were conducted with 26 displaced individuals who had done sex work: 14 were men who have sex with men and 12 were transgender women (natal males). Findings revealed that many participants began doing sex work in the period immediately after displacement, because of a lack of money, housing, and social support. HIV risk was greater during this time due to limited knowledge of HIV and inexperience negotiating safer sex with clients. Other findings indicated that sex workers who exerted more control and choice in the circumstances of their work reported greater satisfaction. In addition, we found that although many sex workers insisted on condom use with clients, several noted that they would sometimes have unprotected sex for additional money. Specific characteristics affecting the experience of sex work among the transgender women were also discussed.


Sex work MSM Transgender HIV Qualitative methodology Sexual orientation 



This study was supported by Award R01HD057785 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of NICHD or the NIH. The authors also received support from the District of Columbia Developmental Center for AIDS Research (P30AI087714).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fernanda T. Bianchi
    • 1
  • Carol A. Reisen
    • 2
  • Maria Cecilia Zea
    • 2
  • Salvador Vidal-Ortiz
    • 3
  • Felisa A. Gonzales
    • 2
  • Fabián Betancourt
    • 4
  • Marcela Aguilar
    • 4
  • Paul J. Poppen
    • 2
  1. 1.Global Women’s InstituteThe George Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyThe George Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.Department of SociologyAmerican UniversityWashingtonUSA
  4. 4.ProfamiliaBogotáColombia

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