Sex workers in border regions potential source for HIV/AIDS spread

December 02, 2002

HOUSTON, Dec. 2, 2002 - The social behavior of sex workers and transportation workers along the U.S. - Mexico border has the potential to spread HIV and AIDS through North and Central America in much the same way the disease has spread through sub-Saharan Africa, according to a new University of Houston study.

Researchers at the University of Houston conducted the study in an attempt to understand one aspect of the social mechanisms through which people contract HIV and AIDS.

Avelardo Valdez, UH professor of social work, and his colleagues recently completed the two-year project examining high-risk sexual behavior and injecting drug use among sex workers on the U.S. - Mexico border, specifically in the region of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. Valdez completed a similar research project among sex workers in the Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, in 2001.

"The results of these studies indicate that sex work along the U.S. - Mexico border has important implications for the spread of HIV, AIDS and other infections in both countries. It's very important for us to monitor the behavior of these workers and identify its potential for spreading disease," Valdez said.

The data Valdez collected indicates that the majority of the sex workers' client bases included non-regular visitors from both the U.S. and Mexico, and a large proportion reported having unprotected sex with tourists and men associated with transportation industries.

"Many of these clients are long-haul truck drivers from regions throughout the U.S., 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."

Valdez said in addition to the potential of the situation to spread AIDS, there are other sociological issues the study brings to light, such as the social and economic role of women in this region and the impact of globalization.

"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," he said.

The two-year study, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), was completed this summer. Valdez and his research team will present the findings at two conferences in Mexico in December: Dec. 4-6 at the Eighth Annual National Congress on HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Vera Cruz, Mexico; and Dec. 6-7 in Cuernavaca, Mexico, 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.

Valdez and his colleagues currently are working on another study of Mexican American heroin users in San Antonio, also funded by NIDA, that looks at the role of social networks in non-injecting drug users transitioning to injecting drugs and other high-risk behaviors associated with the spread of HIV/AIDS. The goal of the research is to provide information that can be used to develop network-based interventions for use among groups of non-injecting drug users to prevent the transition to injecting and other high-risk behaviors.
-end-
About the University of Houston

The University of Houston, Texas' premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 34,400 students.

For more information about UH visit the university's Newsroom at www.uh.edu/admin/media/newsroom

University of Houston

Related HIV Articles from Brightsurf:

BEAT-HIV Delaney collaboratory issues recommendations measuring persistent HIV reservoirs
Spearheaded by Wistar scientists, top worldwide HIV researchers from the BEAT-HIV Martin Delaney Collaboratory to Cure HIV-1 Infection by Combination Immunotherapy (BEAT-HIV Collaboratory) compiled the first comprehensive set of recommendations on how to best measure the size of persistent HIV reservoirs during cure-directed clinical studies.

The Lancet HIV: Study suggests a second patient has been cured of HIV
A study of the second HIV patient to undergo successful stem cell transplantation from donors with a HIV-resistant gene, finds that there was no active viral infection in the patient's blood 30 months after they stopped anti-retroviral therapy, according to a case report published in The Lancet HIV journal and presented at CROI (Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections).

Children with HIV score below HIV-negative peers in cognitive, motor function tests
Children who acquired HIV in utero or during birth or breastfeeding did not perform as well as their peers who do not have HIV on tests measuring cognitive ability, motor function and attention, according to a report published online today in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Efforts to end the HIV epidemic must not ignore people already living with HIV
Efforts to prevent new HIV transmissions in the US must be accompanied by addressing HIV-associated comorbidities to improve the health of people already living with HIV, NIH experts assert in the third of a series of JAMA commentaries.

The Lancet HIV: Severe anti-LGBT legislations associated with lower testing and awareness of HIV in African countries
This first systematic review to investigate HIV testing, treatment and viral suppression in men who have sex with men in Africa finds that among the most recent studies (conducted after 2011) only half of men have been tested for HIV in the past 12 months.

The Lancet HIV: Tenfold increase in number of adolescents on HIV treatment in South Africa since 2010, but many still untreated
A new study of more than 700,000 one to 19-year olds being treated for HIV infection suggests a ten-fold increase in the number of adolescents aged 15 to 19 receiving HIV treatment in South Africa, according to results published in The Lancet HIV journal.

Starting HIV treatment in ERs may be key to ending HIV spread worldwide
In a follow-up study conducted in South Africa, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers say they have evidence that hospital emergency departments (EDs) worldwide may be key strategic settings for curbing the spread of HIV infections in hard-to-reach populations if the EDs jump-start treatment and case management as well as diagnosis of the disease.

NIH HIV experts prioritize research to achieve sustained ART-free HIV remission
Achieving sustained remission of HIV without life-long antiretroviral therapy (ART) is a top HIV research priority, according to a new commentary in JAMA by experts at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.

The Lancet HIV: PrEP implementation is associated with a rapid decline in new HIV infections
Study from Australia is the first to evaluate a population-level roll-out of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in men who have sex with men.

Researchers date 'hibernating' HIV strains, advancing BC's leadership in HIV cure research
Researchers have developed a novel way for dating 'hibernating' HIV strains, in an advancement for HIV cure research.

Read More: HIV News and HIV Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.