UBC Faculty Research and Publications

International migration from non-endemic settings as a protective factor for HIV/STI risk among female sex workers in Vancouver, Canada Goldenberg, Shira M.; Liu, Vivian; Nguyen, Paul; Chettiar, Jill; Shannon, Kate


Background Given heterogeneous evidence regarding the impacts of migration on HIV/sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among female sex workers (FSWs), we explored factors associated with international migration among FSWs in Vancouver, Canada. Methods We draw on baseline questionnaire and HIV/STI testing data from a community-based cohort, AESHA, from 2010-2012. Logistic regression identified correlates of international migration. Results Of 650 FSWs, 163 (25.1%) were international migrants, who primarily worked in formal indoor establishments. HIV/STI prevalence was lower among migrants than Canadian-born women (5.5% vs. 25.9%). In multivariate analysis, international migration was positively associated with completing high school, supporting dependents, and paying a third party, and negatively associated with HIV, injecting drugs and inconsistent condom use with clients. Discussion Although migrants experience lower workplace harms and HIV risk than Canadian-born women, they face concerning levels of violence, police harassment, and HIV/STIs. Research exploring structural and socio-cultural factors shaping risk mitigation and migrants’ access to support remains needed.

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