Correlates of Partner Violence Among Female Street-Based Sex Workers: Substance Abuse, History of Childhood Abuse, and HIV Risks

El-Bassel, Nabila; Witte, Susan S.; Wada, Takeshi; Gilbert, Louisa; Wallace, Joyce

This study examines the prevalence of physical and sexual abuse by intimate and commercial sexual partners among street-based sex workers and explores correlates of partner abuse by commercial partners using the following factors: sociodemographics, substance abuse, sexual behavior, and physical and sexual childhood abuse. One hundred thirteen street sex workers were recruited from December 1996 through May 1997 while receiving services from the Foundations for Research on Sexually Transmitted Diseases (FROST'D), a nonprofit organization based in New York City. Partner abuse is a common occurrence among street sex workers. Two of three street prostitutes have experienced lifetime physical or sexual abuse by either an intimate or commercial partner. In addition, one of eight reported physical and sexual abuse by both intimate and commercial partners during her lifetime. Women who were homeless in the last year, those who reported exchanging for drugs and money as their main source of income, used injection drugs in the past year and had sex in crack houses, and who were human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive were more likely to be report combined physical and sexual abuse. Understanding the relationship between partner violence, victim's substance abuse, and HIV-risk behavior is important for the development of public policies and treatment and prevention strategies to address the constellation of problems that drug-using female street sex workers face.

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AIDS Patient Care and STDs

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Social Work
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April 3, 2012