Study Examines How Population’s Percentage of Female Commercial Sex Workers Affects HIV/AIDS Prevalence
"Size Matters: The Number of Prostitutes and the Global HIV/AIDS Pandemic," PLoS One: John Talbott of Africans Against AIDS used cross-country linear and multiple regressions based on new UNAIDS data to determine that the number of female commercial sex workers as a percentage of the adult female population is positively correlated with HIV/AIDS prevalence nationwide. Talbott also found that literacy levels among women, differences in literacy levels between genders and inequalities in income also are positively correlated with HIV/AIDS prevalence -- a finding that confirms the results of previous studies. In addition, Muslims as a percentage of the population -- which is correlated with male circumcision rates and previously has been found to negatively correlate with HIV/AIDS prevalence -- is not significant when the percentage of commercial sex workers is taken into account, according to Talbott.
The study's findings provide "strong evidence that when conducted properly, cross-country regression data does not support the theory that male circumcision is the key to slowing the AIDS epidemic," Talbott writes. He adds that the number of HIV-positive commercial sex workers is a "highly significant and robust" method of explaining nationwide HIV prevalence. This method also provides an "explanation ... for why Africa has been hit the hardest by the AIDS pandemic and why there appears to be very little correlation between" HIV/AIDS prevalence and country wealth, according to Talbott (Talbott, PLoS One, 6/20).