UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Generational sex and HIV risk among Indigenous women in a street-based urban Canadian setting Bingham, Brittany; Leo, Diane; Zhang, Ruth; Montaner, Julio; Shannon, Kate


In Canada, Indigenous women are over-represented among new HIV infections and street-based sex workers. Scholars suggest that Aboriginal women's HIV risk stems from intergenerational effects of colonisation and racial policies. This research examined generational sex work involvement among Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women and the effect on risk for HIV acquisition. The sample included 225 women in street-based sex work and enrolled in a community-based prospective cohort, in partnership with local sex work and Aboriginal community partners. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression modeled an independent relationship between Aboriginal ancestry and generational sex work and the impact of generational sex work on HIV infection among Aboriginal sex workers. Aboriginal women (48%) were more likely to be HIV-positive, with 34% living with HIV compared to 24% non-Aboriginal women. In multivariate logistic regression model, Aboriginal women remained three times more likely to experience generational sex work (AOR:2.97; 95%CI:1.5,5.8). Generational sex work was significantly associated with HIV (AOR = 3.01, 95%CI: 1.67–4.58) in a confounder model restricted to Aboriginal women. High prevalence of generational sex work among Aboriginal women and three-fold increased risk for HIV infection are concerning. Policy reforms and community-based, culturally safe and trauma informed HIV-prevention initiatives are required for Indigenous sex workers.

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