Female Sex Workers in China: Vectors of Disease?

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To analyze the extent by which Chinese female sex workers (FSWs) serve as vectors of HIV/AIDS to an otherwise spared general population and to describe the implications of centering efforts solely on this high-risk group.


By using the example of FSWs in China, we intend to demonstrate the role that structural factors can have on HIV transmission above and beyond individual high-risk behaviors.

Study Design:

Literature review of years 1980–2006.


Analysis of the literature suggests that major determinants of HIV transmission amongst FSWs in China include sociopolitical context, gender, work environment and finally, risky sexual behaviors.


Chinese FSWs live in a specific sociopolitical context that shapes their capacities to engage in safe-sex practices. Focusing on FSWs as vectors of HIV/AIDS epidemic in China neglects the larger context that endangers all members of society and blames an already vulnerable population.

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