New prostitutes at higher STI risk

Dec. 12, 2008 at 12:25 PM   |   Comments

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- A study of female sex workers in Cambodia found less experienced prostitutes more likely to have sexually transmitted infections, researchers said.

The study of more than 1,000 female sex workers in Cambodia, published in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases, showed girls new to the sex industry were twice as likely to have gonorrhea or chlamydia.

Heng Sopheab of the University of Bergen in Norway and the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STDs, in Cambodia, led a team of researchers who investigated the prevalence of STIs and the health behavior of female sex workers in Cambodia.

Sopheab said that of the women studied, 60 percent were new workers -- selling sex for less than a year.

Prevalence of gonorrhea, chlamydia or any STI was higher among these new workers; overall they were 2.1 times more likely to be infected than more experienced women, the researcher said.

The overall STI prevalence in the Cambodian workers was 2.3 percent for syphilis, 13 percent for gonorrhea and 14.4 percent for chlamydia.

Sopheab said the obvious explanation is that newer workers are more likely to engage in high-risk behavior because they lack prevention information, are unaware of STI services and are less skilled and experienced in negotiating safer sex

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