Epidemic impacts of a community empowerment intervention for HIV prevention among female sex workers in generalized and concentrated epidemics

Andrea L. Wirtz, Carel Pretorius, Chris Beyrer, Stefan Baral, Michele R. Decker, Susan G. Sherman, Michael Sweat, Tonia Poteat, Jennifer Butler, Robert Oelrichs, Iris Semini, Deanna Kerrigan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Introduction: Sex workers have endured a high burden of HIV infection in and across HIV epidemics. A comprehensive, community empowerment-based HIV prevention intervention emphasizes sex worker organization and mobilization to address HIV risk and often includes community-led peer education, condom distribution, and other activities. Meta-analysis of such interventions suggests a potential 51% reduction in inconsistent condom use. Mathematical modeling exercises provide theoretical insight into potential impacts of the intervention on HIV incidence and burden in settings where interventions have not yet been implemented. Methods: We used a deterministic model, Goals, to project the impact on HIV infections when the community empowerment interventions were scaled up among female sex workers in Kenya, Thailand, Brazil, and Ukraine. Modeling scenarios included expansion of the comprehensive community empowerment-based HIV prevention intervention from baseline coverage over a 5-year period (5-65% in Kenya and Ukraine; 10-70% in Thailand and Brazil), while other interventions were held at baseline levels. A second exercise increased the intervention coverage simultaneously with equitable access to ART for sex workers. Impacts on HIV outcomes among sex workers and adults are observed from 2012-2016 and, compared to status quo when all interventions are held constant. Results: Optimistic but feasible coverage (65%-70%) of the intervention demonstrated a range of impacts on HIV: 220 infections averted over 5 yrs. among sex workers in Thailand, 1,830 in Brazil, 2,220 in Ukraine, and 10,800 infections in Kenya. Impacts of the intervention for female sex workers extend to the adult population, cumulatively averting 730 infections in Thailand to 20,700 adult infections in Kenya. Impacts vary by country, influenced by HIV prevalence in risk groups, risk behaviors, intervention use, and population size. Discussion: A community empowerment approach to HIV prevention and access to universal ART for female sex workers is a promising human rights-based solution to overcoming the persistent burden of HIV among female sex workers across epidemic settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere88047
JournalPloS one
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 6 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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