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Sexually transmitted infections (STI) are an occupational risk for people who sell sex, but most are very keen to keep themselves and their partners safe. Many people believe that sex workers have a high risk of and play an important role in transmission of STIs. Research in Europe over the past two decades has been important in countering this belief (1-3). Studies consistently show a high rate of condom use in commercial sex, and relatively low risks of HIV and other STI for women sex workers (2,3). A survey of 945 women sex workers in nine European cities in 1990-1 found an overall HIV-1 prevalence of 5.3%, associated with sharing injecting equipment, coming from a high prevalence area, and use of incompatible lubricants during sex. Women who did not inject drugs had a prevalence of 1.5% (1). Two cohort studies in Europe have shown a relatively low incidence of HIV infection (0.2 and 0.9 cases per 100 person years respectively in the United Kingdom and Spain) (2,4). Higher risks have been found in more stigmatised sex workers, including men who sell sex, transgenders, and injecting drug users (5,6).


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