Female sex workers (FSWs) have an increased risk of HIV infections due to a number of behavioral and structural drivers. Behavioral factors include multiple sexual partnerships, inability to negotiate condom use, inconsistent use of condoms, violence, and substance use; structural factors include migration and mobility, stigma, unemployment and poverty, criminalization of sex work, limited access to care and treatment, and weak social and legal support. Despite efforts to address these challenges, sufficient access to HIV prevention, treatment, and care for sex workers remains elusive in many regions globally. In Uganda, HIV prevalence among FSWs is estimated between 33 and 37 percent2, much higher than the national average of 7.3 percent.
The STAR-EC project implemented a combination HIV prevention strategy to reduce the risk of HIV transmission among FSWs in East Central Uganda. The project trained and supported peer educators to identify FSWs in their communities and link them to HIV and other health services at health facilities. STAR-EC also increased access to HIV testing and counseling (HTC) and antiretroviral therapy (ART), and improved referral networks to ensure HIV-positive clients are followed-up with and linked to care and support programs. STAR-EC, JSI, 2016