To compare indicators of sexual health and predictors of condom use for commercial sex among local and international female sex workers first attending an STD clinic.
A public STD clinic in Sydney, Australia.
All sex workers first attending between June 1991 and May 1993.
Cross-sectional analysis of demographic, behavioural and morbidity data from proforma medical records.
91 local sex workers and 123 international sex workers (predominantly from Thailand, Malaysia and China) first presented during the study period. There were significantly higher prevalences of chlamydia (0 v. 15%, p = 0.0002), gonorrhoea (0 v. 14%, p = 0.0006), syphilis (0 v. 10%, p = 0.006) and clinical genital herpes (0 v. 5%, p = 0.04) among international sex workers. The only case of HIV infection was in an international sex worker. Inconsistent condom use for commercial sex was significantly more common among international sex workers (RR = 4.5; 95% CI 3.1-6.5). On multivariate analysis, inconsistent condom use in international sex workers was associated with a recent history of prostitution outside Australia (p = 0.04), while inconsistent condom usage among local sex workers was associated with increasing age (p = 0.003).
These data illustrate the efficacy of condoms and the success of targeted education programmes in local sex workers in Sydney. By contrast, international sex workers continued to be at high risk of STDs. The international sex industry in Sydney requires enhanced culture-specific interventions. Immigration laws as they affect sex workers should also be reviewed.
This study analyzes data on all female sex workers who attended the Sydney Sexual Health Center for a first visit for a sexually transmitted disease (STD) screening during June 1, 1991, and May 31, 1993. International sex workers were identified as women who do not speak English at home and were born outside Australia. Diseases were confirmed clinically, by specimen or culture or by antibody or serological tests. Results apply to 91 local and 123 international prostitutes. 47% of international prostitutes and 34% of local prostitutes were aged 21-25 years. Most international sex workers spoke Thai or a Chinese dialect. 10% of local prostitutes were born in Asia. 90% of international prostitutes were born in Thailand, Malaysia, or China. Local prostitutes were better educated. 7% of the local prostitutes and none of the international sex workers had a history of injectable drug use. Local prostitutes tended to use condoms for birth control, and international prostitutes tended to use oral contraceptives. One international prostitute tested HIV positive. 1 in 7 international prostitutes had gonorrhea and the same proportion had chlamydia. Viral STDs (chronic hepatitis B, HIV infection, and genital warts) were more prevalent, but uncommon among international prostitutes. More international prostitutes had multiple STDs. 79 international sex workers and only 9 local sex workers had an STD. 47% of international sex workers and only 10% of local sex workers had worked overseas as a prostitute in the preceding 12 months. Over half of local sex workers and only 8% of international sex workers consistently used condoms. Failure to use condoms was associated with being an international sex worker. Inconsistent use of condoms among local prostitutes was related to increased age.
One hundred and thirty eight penicillinase producing Neisseria gonorrhoeae (PPNG) and 239 non-PPNG strains were characterised serologically using a panel of seven monoclonal antibodies directed against protein 1A and seven against protein 1B. An association between serovar and susceptibility to antimicrobial agents, auxotype, and plasmid content was observed. Serogroup WI strains were more sensitive to penicillin, ampicillin, tetracycline, erythromycin, cefoxitin, and cefuroxime. Sixty five (82%) of the 79 WI strains were typed as being serovar Aedgkih, and 47 (72%) of these strains required arginine, uracil, and hypoxanthine for growth (AUH-). Seventy one (44%) of 160 WII/WIII strains were serovar Bacejk, and 42 (59%) of these required proline, citrulline, and uracil for growth (PCU-) and were plasmid free. Serovars Bcgk, Beghjk, Bacjk, and Bajk were associated with resistance to antimicrobial agents. Analysis of PPNG isolates showed a new serovar, Af, which was associated with strains imported from Malaysia and Singapore that required proline and ornithine for growth (Pro-Orn-) and carried the 24.5 megadalton transfer plasmid, the 2.6 megadalton cryptic plasmid, and the 4.5 megadalton penicillinase producing plasmid. Other associations between serovar and geographical location were noted.
A monoclonal antibody raised against Haemophilus ducreyi was tested for its sensitivity and specificity as an immunofluorescence (IF) reagent using simulated vaginal smears containing H. ducreyi, smears taken from skin lesions of mice infected with H. ducreyi and patients from South Africa, Thailand and Malaysia with clinically diagnosed chancroid. The IF test was more sensitive than culture or Gram staining in the simulated smears, theoretically detecting less than 4 organisms/sample. It detected H. ducreyi in 95% of the animal lesions compared with 14% detected by culture. Immunofluorescence testing identified over 90% of culture-positive cases of chancroid but also detected organisms in some culture-negative cases where clinical evidence for the diagnosis was strong. These results suggest that this antibody may provide a simple, rapid and sensitive means of detecting H. ducreyi in cases of chancroid.
The prevalence of hepatitis B virus markers in 121 men and 239 women prostitutes was studied. Of 33 (9.7%) with hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), nine (27.3%) also had hepatitis Be antigen, which was more prevalent in men than women. Antibodies to HBsAg (anti-HBs) and to hepatitis B core antigen (anti-HBc) were found in about 71% of men and women prostitutes. Hepatitis B virus markers were more prevalent in men than in women prostitutes. Compared with other people, prostitutes had a significantly greater prevalence of hepatitis B virus markers. This study strongly suggested the importance of sexual transmission of infection with hepatitis B virus in a country where infection is endemic.
The prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases was determined among 370 prostitutes in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Chlamydial cervicitis (26.5%) was detected more frequently than gonorrhoea (14.25%) and was associated more often with pelvic inflammatory disease. Concurrent infections and asymptomatic infections were common. Seropositivity to hepatitis B and syphilis were 66.3% and 13.6% respectively. Women under 20 years of age had significantly higher rates of infection with Chlamydia trachomatis and hepatitis B virus than older women.
Study site: private clinic, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia