Sex Workers in Mexico-US Border Regions Potential Source for HIV/AIDS Spread
January 24, 2003
A University of Houston study found that the social behavior of sex workers and transportation workers along the US-Mexico border could potentially spread HIV/AIDS throughout North and Central America in much the same way it has spread through sub-Saharan Africa. Avelardo Valdez, UH professor of social work, and colleagues recently completed a two-year project examining high-risk sexual behavior and injection drug use among sex workers in the region of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. Valdez completed a similar study among sex workers in the Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas area in 2001.Adapted from:
"It's very important for us to monitor the behavior of these workers and identify its potential for spreading disease," Valdez said. Data indicated that the majority of the sex workers' client bases comprised nonregular visitors from both countries. A large proportion of the workers reported having unprotected sex with tourists and transportation workers.
"Many of these clients are long-haul truck drivers from regions throughout the US, primarily the Midwest," Valdez said. "The main thrust of the study focuses on the potential this social mechanism could play in the spread of AIDS as the virus gets into those populations of truck drivers. Keep in mind that this is how the virus is believed to have spread throughout sub-Saharan Africa, as transportation workers moved through border regions."
The National Institute on Drug Abuse funded the study, completed in summer 2002. Valdez and his research team presented their findings at the Eighth Annual National Congress on HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Vera Cruz and also at a conference sponsored by the Texas/World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Cross Cultural Research and Training on Mental Health and Psychosocial Factors in Health, held in Cuernavaca. Both conferences were in December 2002.
"We hope this information will be used as a pilot study and lead to a larger study of sex workers along the border, and perhaps we can include Mexican research collaborators," Valdez said.
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.