ART uptake and adherence among female sex workers (FSW) globally: A scoping review

Jennifer L. Glick, Rienna G. Russo, Aimee Kao Hsuan Huang, Belinda Jivapong, Vijayasundaram Ramasamy, Lori M. Rosman, Danielle L. Pelaez, Susan G. Sherman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


We conducted the first scoping literature review on ART uptake and adherence among Female Sex Workers (FSW), following PRISMA-ScR guidelines. Searches were conducted in PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, PsycInfo, and Sociological Abstracts. Eligibility criteria included: reporting an ART uptake or adherence result among FSW aged 18 or older; peer-reviewed; published in English between 1996 and 2018. Our search identified 6,735 studies; 30 met eligibility requirements. ART uptake ranges from 0 to 100% and adherence ranges from 50–90%, depending on measurement methods. Uptake and adherence influencing factors are mapped onto a social ecological model (SEM). Knowledge and beliefs, substance use, food insecurity and sex-work engagement were negatively associated, while older age, relationships and social support were positively associated with ART uptake and adherence. Standardised methods to measure uptake and adherence prevalence must be established for data comparison. Evidence regarding ART uptake and adherence barriers and facilitators span multiple SEM levels, although more research is needed regarding structural and occupational level influencers. Results suggest that the multi-level ART uptake and adherence barriers faced by FSW require complex multi-level evidence-based interventions. Study findings can inform ART interventions, future research, and offer guidance to other support services with FSW, such as PrEP interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)254-284
Number of pages31
JournalGlobal public health
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022


  • Antiretroviral therapy (ART)
  • adherence
  • female sex workers (FSW)
  • scoping review
  • uptake

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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