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Alcohol Use and Associated Risk Factors Among Female Sex Workers in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 July 2023

Alicja Beksinska*
Affiliation:
Department of Global Health and Development, Faculty of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom
Oda Karlsen
Affiliation:
Department of Global Health and Development, Faculty of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom
Mitzy Gafos
Affiliation:
Department of Global Health and Development, Faculty of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom
Tara Beattie
Affiliation:
Department of Global Health and Development, Faculty of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom
*
*Corresponding author.
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Abstract

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Aims

Due to its widespread use in the sex work industry, female sex workers (FSWs) in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are at high risk of harmful alcohol use and associated adverse health outcomes. This systematic review and meta-analysis aims to provide an estimate of the prevalence of harmful alcohol use among FSWs in LMICs and to examine associations with common health and social concerns.

Methods

The review protocol was registered with PROSPERO, number CRD42021237438. We searched three electronic databases for peer-reviewed, quantitative studies from inception to 24th February 2021.

Inclusion criteria:

  • Any measure of prevalence or incidence of alcohol use among FSWs aged 18 years or older.

  • Countries defined as LMIC in accordance with the World Bank income groups 2019.

  • Study designs: cross-sectional survey, case–control study, cohort study, case series analysis, or experimental study with baseline measures for alcohol use.

Pooled prevalence estimates were calculated for:

  1. 1. Any hazardous/harmful/dependent alcohol use

  2. 2. Harmful/dependent alcohol use only, both overall and by region

  3. 3. Daily alcohol use.

  4. 4. Meta-analyses examined associations between harmful alcohol use and violence, condom use, HIV/STIs, mental health problems and other drug use.

Results

In total, 435 papers were identified. After screening, 99 papers reporting on 87 unique studies with 51,904 participants from 32 LMICs met the inclusion criteria. Study designs included cross-sectional (n = 89), cohort (n = 6) and experimental (n = 4). Overall, 5 scored as high quality, 79 studies scored as moderate and 15 scored as weak quality. Twenty-nine papers reporting on 22 unique studies used validated alcohol use tools including AUDIT, CAGE and WHO CIDI. The pooled prevalence of any hazardous/harmful/dependent alcohol use was 41% (95% CI: 31–51%), and of daily alcohol use was 26% (95% CI: 17–36%). There was variation in harmful alcohol use by global region (Sub-Saharan Africa: 38%; South Asia/Central Asia/ East Asia and Pacific: 47% and Latin America and the Caribbean:44%). Harmful alcohol use was significantly associated with inconsistent condom use (pooled unadjusted RR: 1.65; 95% CI: 1.01–2.67), STIs (pooled unadjusted OR: 1.29; 95% CI 1.15–1.46); and other drug use (pooled unadjusted OR of 2.44; 95% CI 1.24–4.80), but not with HIV, violence or mental health problems.

Conclusion

We found a high burden of problem alcohol use and daily alcohol use among FSWs in LMICs. Harmful drinking was associated with HIV risk factors such as inconsistent condom use, STIs and other drug use. There is an urgent need for tailored interventions for FSWs in LMICs that address alcohol use as well as the associated sex work risk environment

Type
Research
Creative Commons
Creative Common License - CCCreative Common License - BYCreative Common License - NC
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. This does not need to be placed under each abstract, just each page is fine.
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Royal College of Psychiatrists

Footnotes

Abstracts were reviewed by the RCPsych Academic Faculty rather than by the standard BJPsych Open peer review process and should not be quoted as peer-reviewed by BJPsych Open in any subsequent publication.

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