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Street-based sex work in Russia, as in many countries, carries with it a high risk for violence and the transmission of infectious diseases. The male partners of female sex workers are both cause and recipient of such risks. Because little is known about the men, we undertook a preliminary study to determine the feasibility of recruiting and interviewing them, develop typologies that describe partners, and derive hypotheses for further study and risk reduction intervention projects.
We were able to conduct open-ended, qualitative interviews with street-based sex workers and, largely through these contacts, their male partners. To these data, we added interviews with social work and medical experts who engage with the sex workers.
The text of interviews from 37 respondents were analyzed to identify commonly mentioned partner characteristics in five distinct domains: sociodemographics, behavioral patterns of the partners, motivations in seeking sex services, levels of partner engagement with the sex workers, and the social circumstances that moderate the engagement. Four of the five domains all but sociodemographics proved useful in identifying typologies that were best described as populated points in a matrix generated from the intersection of the four domains.
The data were too limited to specify which of the points in the matrix are most common, but the points populated are useful in generating hypotheses for further study and in identifying potential avenues for risk reduction interventions. There are an estimated 2 million young people who inject drugs in Russia United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Accompanying this, official statistics report that the prevalence of HIV more than doubled from per , in to in Onishchenko Simultaneously, the percentage of infections attributed to sexual transmission has increased from 2.
These risks are found combined in street-based female sex workers sbFSW. High HIV prevalence in this population has been reported in several cities, including estimates of 15 percent in Moscow, 61 percent in Togliatti, and 65 percent in Kaliningrad Lowndes et al. In St. Petersburg, sbFSW are involved in various health-risk practices that include unprotected sex and injection drug use Benotsch et al.