Male sex workers in Córdoba, Argentina: sociodemographic characteristics and sex work experiences Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE:To report on the sociodemographic characteristics and work experiences of 31 male sex workers (MSWs) in the city of Córdoba, Argentina. METHODS:Information on each of the MSWs was collected using a questionnaire that covered his personal characteristics and his work background, self-assessed general health status, and use of health and social services. Scales were included in order to assess attitudes towards condom use, knowledge about safe sex, perceptions about the risk of getting HIV, individual self-efficacy, and locus of control. The questionnaire also asked each respondent to rank his level of agreement with interactive strategies for gaining client compliance with safe sex practices. RESULTS:In terms of their self-identity, out of the 30 MSWs who answered the question, 10 of them (33.3%) self-identified as heterosexual and 9 (30%) as bisexual. Alcohol and drug consumption and unsafe sexual practices were relatively low among the MSWs. Of the 31 MSWs responding, 21 of them (67.7%) reported that they had been tested for HIV, but only 13 of them (41.9%) said they had been vaccinated for either hepatitis A or hepatitis B. A variety of differences were found between the study's 17 street sex workers (sex workers who offer their services in public places such as streets and parks) and the 14 independent sex workers (sex workers who are self-employed, advertise and manage their own business, and have an exclusive location for their commercial sex work). The street MSWs were younger and had less formal education. Independent MSWs were economically more settled, had been working longer in the sex industry, and were more comfortable about having sex with men. Independent MSWs were also more likely to report a gay sexual orientation and less likely to report using alcohol, marijuana, or other substances. CONCLUSIONS:The differences between street MSWs and independent MSWs are important since they could influence the negotiating of safer sex practices with clients. Programs aimed at preventing the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and promoting responsible self-care among MSWs in Córdoba should be introduced. Such programs could increase the proportion of MSWs who know their HIV serostatus and could make MSWs more aware of the risk of different sex acts performed in commercial sex encounters. Given the differences that we found between street MSWs and independent MSWs, specific strategies and educational materials should be developed for those two subgroups within the MSW population.

publication date

  • May 1, 2003