Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

UCSD Researchers Study Tijuana Sex Workers And Their Husbands and Boyfriends

UC San Diego researchers will study 100 couples in Tijuana to learn what role female sex workers' husbands and boyfriends might play in spreading sexually transmitted diseases.

Steffanie Strathdee, who is with UCSD, said female sex workers' husbands and boyfriends may play a more important role than their clients in influencing female sex workers' sexual behaviors and subsequent risk of HIV infection.

She said that's because many female sex workers in Tijuana don't use condoms with their boyfriends or husbands.

"They may assume that this partner is lower risk. But, indeed, if this partner is injecting drugs or having sex with other women, they may be higher risk than these women realize."

Half of the nearly 250 female sex workers Strathdee talked to say their partners have sex with other people. Despite that, more than 70 percent of the women say they had unprotected sex with their partners.

Strathdee's research shows having sex with multiple partners spreads HIV 10 times more rapidly than when couples are monogamous.