Sexualized Drug Use Among Female Sex Workers from Eight Cities in China: A Cross-Sectional Study

Jason J. Ong, Mingzhou Xiong, Joseph D. Tucker, Yajie Wang, M. Kumi Smith, Weiming Tang, Hongyun Fu, Heping Zheng, Bin Yang, Cheng Wang

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4 Citations (Scopus)


There is a rich literature on sexualized drug use (i.e., drug use before or during sex) for men who have sex with men but less data from female sex workers (FSW), particularly from low- and middle-income countries. We describe the sexual and reproductive health outcomes in FSW reporting sexualized drug use. In 2019, we conducted a cross-sectional study in eight cities from seven provinces in China. We recruited FSW through community organizations working with sex workers and included those aged 18 years or above, exchanged sex at least once for money or goods in the past three months, and had traded sex for longer than a year. Multivariable logistic regression models were used. In total, 650 women participated: average age was 38.8 years (SD 10.2), 57.1% reported a monthly income over 5000 RMB ($USD 707), and 12.8% completed high school or above. Among participants, 65 (10.0%, 95% confidence interval (CI) 7.8–12.6) reported a history of sexualized drug use. Compared to FSW who never reported a history of sexualized drug use, FSW who reported a history of sexualized drug use had greater odds of working for a manager compared to being self-employed (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 4.04, 95% CI 2.12–7.69), work in a sauna (AOR 2.43, 95% CI 1.09–5.41), charging a higher price for vaginal sex (AOR 2.15, 95% CI 1.14–4.06), and ever diagnosed with STIs (AOR 4.51, 95% CI 2.61–7.80). One in ten FSW reported sexualized drug use. Although they had similar risk profiles in terms of consistency of condom use and reproductive health outcomes, these women were more likely to report past STIs than those who reported no sexualized drug use. Health workers who work with substance users should devote attention to the sexual practices of their clients to make sure that they have safer sex.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2689-2698
Number of pages10
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2022


  • Female sex workers
  • HIV
  • Sexualized drug use

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