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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2015

A systematic review of the clinical and social epidemiological research among sex workers in Uganda

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2015
Katherine A. Muldoon
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​s12889-015-2553-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

None to declare. There was no funding for this systematic review.

Authors contributions

KAM developed the analysis plan, extracted the data, conducted the analysis and wrote the manuscript.



In response to the high burden of disease among sex workers and their position as a population heavily affected by the HIV epidemic, there has been a growing body of literature investigating the prevalence and risk factors associated with HIV risk among sex workers. To contextualize and summarize the existing research evidence base, a systematic review was conducted to synthesize the epidemiological literature on sex workers in Uganda.


Database selection and search strategy development followed the Cochrane Collaboration’s standards for conducting systematic review searches. All studies that included sex workers as the primary research participants were included in the review. The search was then geographically restricted to the country of Uganda. Items were identified from 18 databases (grey and peer-review) on March 10–11, 2015.


A total of 484 articles were retrieved from the database search. After removal of duplicates, a total of 353 articles were screened for eligibility and 64 full-text articles were assessed. The final review included 24 studies with quantitative methodology conducted among sex workers in Uganda. The HIV prevalence among female sex workers ranged from 32.4–52.0 % and between 8.2–9.0 % had multiple HIV infections. Both multi-drug resistance to antiretroviral therapy (2.6 %) and antibiotics (83.1 %) were observed. Between 33.3–55.1 % reported inconsistent condom use in the past month. In the previous 6 months, over 80 % of sex workers experienced client-perpetrated violence and 18 % experienced intimate partner violence. Over 30 % had a history of extreme war-related trauma.


There was limited information on socio-structural factors that affect sex workers’ commercial working environments in Uganda, including the role of policing and criminalization, as well as the prevalence and factors associated with violence. The majority of the existing evidence is based in Kampala, highlighting a need for information on sex work in other regions of Uganda. Additionally, there is limited information on features of the non-commercial components of sex workers’ lives as well as the services needed to reduce risks outside of the sex industry.
Additional file 1: Search Strategies and results summary. (DOCX 40 kb)
Additional file 2: Overview and characteristics of 13 qualitative studies of sex workers in Uganda. (DOC 124 kb)
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