Characteristics of female sex workers in southern India willing and unwilling to participate in a placebo gel trial

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Respondent-driven sampling was used to recruit female sex workers (FSWs) for a community survey conducted in southern India. After survey completion, participants were given a brochure describing a clinical trial that entailed daily use of a placebo vaginal gel for four months. This study assessed predictors of screening among survey respondents, predictors of enrollment among those eligible for the trial, and predictors of visit attendance and retention among those enrolled. FSWs who reported having symptoms of sexually transmitted infections (STI), engaging in sex work in the past month, and living in a subdistrict easily accessible by public transportation with a high concentration of FSWs, were more likely to screen. FSWs who had never been tested for HIV were more likely to enroll. This analysis suggests that the primary reason FSWs participated in the trial was a desire for health care—not other factors hypothesized to be important, e.g., HIV risk perception and poverty status.