HIV prevalence lay below 1% among female sex workers (FSWs) in Panama, but the rate was higher in unregistered FSWs. Almost 4% of FSWs had syphilis.
Panama regulates sex work and requires FSWs to register with the Social Hygiene Programme of the Ministry of Health. Lying in Central America, Panama has a population of 4.1 million and a UNAIDS-estimated HIV prevalence of 0.8% among 15- to 49-year-olds.
Researchers planned this cross-sectional analysis using venue-based, time-space sampling to recruit FSWs in 2009 and 2010. Using an anonymous structured questionnaire, health workers interviewed FSWs about sociodemographic characteristics, sexual risk behavior, health history, and drug use. Women gave blood samples to be tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).