Research Article

Risks of AIDS among workers in the "sex industry": some initial results from a Scottish study.

BMJ 1989; 299 doi: (Published 15 July 1989) Cite this as: BMJ 1989;299:148
  1. R. M. Thomas,
  2. M. A. Plant,
  3. M. L. Plant,
  4. D. I. Sales
  1. Department of Psychiatry, University of Edinburgh, Morningside Park.


    OBJECTIVE--To determine the extent to which workers in the "sex industry" in Edinburgh engage in activities with a high risk of infection with HIV. DESIGN--Cross sectional, single phase survey in which respondents were located by a non-random method ("snowballing"). SETTING--Research project coordinated by the Alcohol Research Group, Edinburgh. SUBJECTS--205 Sex workers (102 male, 103 female) interviewed between July and December 1988. END POINT--Strategies to reduce risk of AIDS among people who buy and sell sexual services. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS--Data were elicited by a standardised interview which related to over 300 variables. A fifth of the study group had used drugs intravenously, and one in 12 reported that they had been found to be seropositive on HIV testing. Roughly a quarter of the study group sometimes engaged in unprotected sex with clients for more money, and a similar proportion sometimes did not seek medical advice even if they had genital or anal symptoms. CONCLUSIONS--People who buy and sell sexual services should be priority targets for health education and strategies to reduce their risk of AIDS.