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Prevalence and Correlates of HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections among Female Sex Workers and Their Non-commercial Male Partners in Two Mexico-USA Border Cities

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Female sex workers (FSWs) acquire HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) through unprotected sex with commercial and non-commercial (intimate) male partners. Little research has focused on FSWs' intimate relationships, within which condom use is rare. We sought to determine the prevalence and correlates of HIV/STIs within FSWs' intimate relationships in Northern Mexico. From 2010 to 2011, we conducted a cross-sectional survey of FSWs and their non-commercial male partners in Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Eligible FSWs and their verified male partners were aged ≥18 years; FSWs reported lifetime use of heroin, cocaine, crack, or methamphetamine and recently exchanged sex (past month). Participants completed baseline questionnaires and testing for HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. We determined the prevalence and correlates of individuals' HIV/STI positivity using bivariate probit regression. Among 212 couples (n = 424), prevalence of HIV was 2.6 % (n = 11). Forty-two (9.9 %) tested positive for any HIV/STIs, which was more prevalent among women than men (12.7 % vs. 7.1 %, p < 0.05). FSWs with regular sex work clients were less likely to test positive for HIV/STIs than those without regular clients. Similarly, male partners of FSWs who had regular clients were 9 % less likely to have HIV/STIs. Higher sexual decision-making power was protective against HIV/STIs for women. Men who recently used methamphetamine or reported perpetrating any conflict within steady relationships were more likely to test positive for HIV/STIs. Within FSWs' intimate relationships in two Mexican-US border cities, nearly one in ten partners tested positive for HIV/STIs. Couple-based prevention interventions should recognize how intimate relationship factors and social contexts influence HIV/STI vulnerability.

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