High-risk sex among mobile female sex workers in the context of jatras (religious festivals) in Karnataka, India

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Jatras (religious festivals) represent venues for female sex workers (FSWs) to meet potential clients in an environment of anonymity. Data from a survey conducted among 1499 mobile FSWs in Karnataka, India were analysed using bivariate and multivariate analysis. Overall, 31% of mobile FSWs reported attending jatras in the previous year. Women who sold sex at jatras tended to practice sex work in public places, in their own homes or on highways. Jatra attendees reported lower condom use with their last commercial sexual partners at their usual places of sex work. Jatra-related mobility was a significant predictor of non-condom use at their usual place of residence, after controlling for sociodemographic, sex work-related, HIV vulnerability and programme exposure variables. Moreover, only 13% of FSWs used condoms consistently at jatras. Condom availability and accessibility at jatras should be a priority for HIV prevention programmes, and such programmes should make efforts to introduce outreach activities at jatras.