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Risky sexual behavior among male clients of Tijuana sex workers heightens risk of HIV transmission
Date:7/10/2009

A study by a bi-national team of global health researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, examining HIV infection among male clients of female sex workers in Tijuana, has found that over half of male clients had recently had unprotected sex. They also reported a high prevalence of drug use.

"Targeted intervention among male clients is necessary to prevent the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections intervention that doesn't solely place the onus on female sex workers," said lead author Thomas L. Patterson, of UC San Diego's Department of Psychiatry and the Veterans Administration Health Care System, San Diego.

Tijuana, located in Baja California, directly across the border with San Diego, has a thriving sex industry and is a popular destination for U.S. and foreign sex tourists. While the city's health service does license female sex workers, on condition that they are regularly tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STIs), only about half of them are indeed licensed. In addition, Baja California has the second highest cumulative AIDS incidence of any Mexican state and, in 2006, the HIV prevalence among female sex workers in Tijuana was six percent. It has been estimated that as many as one in 112 persons aged 15-49 living in Tijuana is HIV-infected.

"Male clients of female sex workers in the San Diego-Tijuana border region act as a bridge that can potentially transmit HIV and other STIs to sex partners, including their wives," said co-author Manual Gallardo, M.D, Patronato Pro-COMUSIDA in Tijuana. "However, given that only 59% of clients reported regularly using condoms with a female sex worker, there appears to be some level of complacency that urgently needs to be addressed."

The study, published in the current on-line issue of the journal AIDS, looked at 400 clients about half residents of San Diego and the remainder from Tijuana. Their av
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Contact: Debra Kain
ddkain@ucsd.edu
619-543-6163
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert

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