Female sex work and HIV risks in Croatia

Aleksandar Štulhofer, Valerio Baćak, Tihana Drglin, Mario Puljiz, Marko Miklin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The aim of this paper was to analyze and compare the prevalence of HIV-related sexual risk taking among Croatian female sex workers (FSW) in two major urban areas. Two groups of FSWs were interviewed in Zagreb (n=65) and Split (n=89). Participants' mean age was 33.3 (SD=8.32). Interviews were conducted by outreach organizations that provide health services to sex workers in the two cities. The study used a brief questionnaire with standardized behavioral and HIV knowledge indicators. The two groups of FSWs differed significantly in most socio-demographic and socio-sexual indicators. Women from the Split sample were somewhat younger (χ2=6.87, p < 0.05), less educated (χ2=7.71, p < 0.05), less likely to be single (χ2=19.81, p < 0.001), and less likely to be unemployed (χ2=5.22, p < 0.05). In addition, they injected drugs in higher proportion (χ2=35.03, p < 0.001), but had less clients in the preceding month (χ2=12.54, p < 0.001) and were less likely to be abused by them (χ2=7.18, p < 0.01). HIV testing was significantly more prevalent among participants in the Split sample (χ2=4.95, p < 0.05). In multivariate analysis, selling sex in Zagreb (OR = 14.48, p < 0.01), having secondary or higher education (OR = 4.76, p < 0.05), ever tested for HIV (OR = 8.34, p < 0.05), and having assessed the risk of getting infected with HIV as high (OR = 0.23, p < 0.05) were significantly associated with consistent condom use with clients in the last month. The findings of this first systematic study on HIV-related risks among FSWs in Croatia point to the need to update targeted intervention programs by improving the prevention of HIV risks associated with injecting drug use (Split) and by a more efficient HIV educational approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1439-1446
Number of pages8
JournalAIDS Care - Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


  • Condom use
  • Croatia
  • HIV
  • Risk taking
  • Sex work


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