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    Mc Grath-Lone, Louise Marsh, Kimberly Hughes, Gwenda and Ward, Helen 2014. The sexual health of female sex workers compared with other women in England: analysis of cross-sectional data from genitourinary medicine clinics. Sexually Transmitted Infections, Vol. 90, Issue. 4, p. 344.

    Perti, Tara Brown, Joelle M. and Wald, Anna 2013. Women and Health.

    Platt, Lucy Grenfell, Pippa Fletcher, Adam Sorhaindo, Annik Jolley, Emma Rhodes, Tim and Bonell, Chris 2013. Systematic review examining differences in HIV, sexually transmitted infections and health-related harms between migrant and non-migrant female sex workers. Sexually Transmitted Infections, Vol. 89, Issue. 4, p. 311.

    Gul, U Kılıç, A Sakizligil, B Aksaray, S Bilgili, S Demirel, O and Erinckan, C 2008. Magnitude of sexually transmitted infections among female sex workers in Turkey. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, Vol. 22, Issue. 9, p. 1123.


How safe is safer sex? High levels of HSV-1 and HSV-2 in female sex workers in London

  • J. FOX (a1), G. P. TAYLOR (a1), S. DAY (a2), J. PARRY (a3) and H. WARD (a4)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 March 2006

Female sex workers in Europe have low levels of sexually transmitted infections, attributable to condom use. The aim of this paper is to describe the seroepidemiology of HSV-1 and HSV-2 in female sex workers in London by using a 15-year prospective study of 453 sex workers. The seroprevalence of HSV-1 was 74·4% and independently associated with birth in a ‘transitional country’ (OR 5·4, 95% CI 1·61–18·20). The seroprevalence of HSV-2 was 60% and declined over time; it was also independently associated with time in sex work (OR 2·12, 95% CI 1·23–3·65) and birth in a ‘developing country’ (OR 2·95, 95% CI 1·34–6·48). We show that a cohort of sex workers with extensive condom use and little known sexually transmitted infection have high levels of HSV-1 and HSV-2 infection, suggesting that condoms may not be universally protective. Sex workers are candidates for HSV vaccine efficacy or intervention studies.

Corresponding author
Clinical Trials Centre, Winston Churchill Building, Imperial College London, St Mary's Hospital Campus, London W2 1PG. (Email:
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Epidemiology & Infection
  • ISSN: 0950-2688
  • EISSN: 1469-4409
  • URL: /core/journals/epidemiology-and-infection
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