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Few prostitutes 'carry Aids virus'

(First Edition)

FEW WOMEN prostitutes in London are carrying the Aids virus and many are at greater risk of being infected by their clients, writes Liz Hunt.

A survey of 280 prostitutes in the capital found that less than 1 per cent of those tested for HIV (228) were positive, and the risk was greatest in women who had injected drugs. It contradicts recent reports of a high rate of infection in London.

Researchers at St Mary's Hospital Medical School in London found that the use of condoms during penetrative sex with paying clients was almost 100 per cent, but fell to 12 per cent when the women had sex with non-paying partners such as boyfriends.

According to the report in the British Medical Journal, the increasing use of condoms for commercial sex since the mid-1980s has made their use in non-commercial relationships more difficult. It concludes that safe-sex education for prostitutes also needs to focus on their practices with non-paying partners.

Men who use prostitutes are generally assumed to be at risk of HIV infection by this route alone. But more than a third of those who took part in a study by St Mary's of prostitutes' clients said that they had had homosexual experiences. Both studies found that condom failures were common, and suggests that 'female prostitutes are as much at risk of infection from their clients as clients are at risk from prostitutes'.