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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UIC: New Research Explores HIV Self-Testing Among Female Sex Workers in India

New research from Dr. Yamilé Molina, assistant professor of community health sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) School of Public Health, co-authored in the journal “AIDS Care – Psychological and Socio-medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV,” explores human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) self-testing among female sex workers in Pune, India.

Female sex workers represent a focal point of the HIV epidemic in India. HIV self-testing (HIVST) could mitigate under-diagnosis of HIV and reduce disease transmission in this population. This study assessed the acceptability of HIVST through focus group discussions female sex workers. Focus group participants expressed willingness to use HIVST and preference for saliva-based HIVST over blood-based HIVST and preferred that HIVST education, administration, and storage take place in trusted community centers and not in brothels.

Female sex workers and peer educators both noted the lack of privacy and potential loss of confidentiality may be too great a barrier for successful use of HIVST by workers residing in brothels. They also expressed a desire for assistance with HIVST administration and interpretation of the result.

Participants described the importance of acquiring “buy-in” from brothel keepers. In a study based in Nagpur, India, brothel keepers lacked HIV prevention knowledge but were willing to provide HIV screening support to female sex workers living in their brothels, supporting the feasibility of engaging brothel keepers in HIV prevention programs.

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