June 17, 2010
Although sex workers (SWs) are globally recognized to be at high risk for acquiring and transmitting STDs, the authors noted there is "a paucity of published data concerning SWs from the western suburbs of Sydney." The last such study was conducted in 1988, they wrote. The team conducted the current study to learn "the demographics, sexual practices, and health care needs of SWs attending sexual health clinics (SHCs) in the region."
Using clinic databases, self-identified SWs presenting to SHCs in western Sydney from April 2007 to March 2008 were identified. Next, a case note review was undertaken. In all, 185 female SWs were included in the analysis.
Of the female SWs, 82 (45.6 percent) were born in Australia; 98 (54.4 percent) were born outside Australia (predominantly China). English-speaking backgrounds (ESB) were reported by 117 (68 percent); 55 (32 percent) were from non-English-speaking backgrounds (NESB). At presentation, 72 (38.9 percent) were symptomatic; the most common symptom was vaginal discharge. At 28 cases (15.1 percent), chlamydia was the most commonly reported STD in the previous 12 months.
"SWs from NESB were significantly more likely to be older, symptomatic, have a hepatitis B diagnosis in the previous year, and work more shifts per week, compared with SWs from ESB," the authors found. "SWs born overseas were more likely to be symptomatic than Australian-born SWs who, in turn, were more likely to have a hepatitis C diagnosis in the previous year.
"SWs from NESB would potentially benefit from evidence-based, culturally and linguistically appropriate interventions, and targeted health promotion," the authors concluded.
02.2010; Vol. 7; No. 1: P. 3-7; Sheena Rajesh Kakar, Karen Biggs, Charles Chung, Shailendra Sawleshwarkar, Adrian Mindel, Katerina Lagios, Richard J. Hillman
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