High Prevalence of HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections Among Indirect Sex Workers in Cambodia

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Objectives:The goal of this study was to assess the baseline prevalence of and risk factors for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among beer girls enrolled in a behavioral intervention in Battambang, Cambodia.Methods:Ninety-two of 114 women participated in baseline interviewing, HIV/STI testing, and STI treatment. Blood specimens were tested for syphilis and HIV infection. Self-administered vaginal swabs were tested for trichomonas, bacterial vaginosis (BV), gonorrhea, and chlamydia infections.Results:HIV prevalence was 26%. STI prevalences were: 14% chlamydia, 12% trichomonas, 3% gonorrhea, and 0% syphilis. The prevalence of BV was 43%. A history of sex work was reported by 82%. Consistent condom use with clients was reported by 39%. Increased number of partners and symptoms of STI were significantly associated with HIV infection.Discussion:These data suggest high sexual risk among beer girls in Cambodia. Targeted and frequent HIV and STI interventions are urgently needed in this population.

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