Thursday, March 5, 2009

Canwest News Service

One-quarter of female prostitutes HIV positive

Twenty-six per cent of Vancouver's female sex-trade workers are infected with HIV, as are 17 per cent of the city's injection-drug users, results of a B.C. study show.

The study, by researchers at the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and published in the Harm Reduction Journal, is the first in Canada to estimate the per capita prevalence ranges for high-risk groups, using United Nations/World Health Organization software, 2006 Statistics Canada data and other sources such as population surveys.

Gay men, the local population of which is said to number 20,000, including male sex-trade workers, have an estimated HIV prevalence rate of 15 per cent.

The overall prevalence of HIV in Vancouver is about 1.21 per cent, six times higher than the national rate.

"Drugs and sex are the preferred routes for transmission. Female sex-trade workers get paid more money for having unprotected sex with johns," explained co-author Dr. Julio Montaner, who is president of the International AIDS Society and head of the division of HIV/AIDS at the University of British Columbia.

There are up to 520 female sex-trade workers in Vancouver. When asked if the high HIV prevalence among prostitutes should trigger a warning to visitors during the 2010 Olympics, Montaner said: "There should be public advisories everywhere about this, not just because of the Olympics."

Copyright © The Victoria Times Colonist

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Created: March 10, 2009
Last modified: June 20, 2009
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