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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2015

Heterosexual men who patronise entertainment establishments versus brothels in an Asian urban setting – which group practises riskier sexual behaviours?

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2015
Raymond Boon Tar Lim, Mee Lian Wong, Poh Huat Tan, Mandy Govender
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

RBTL analysed and interpreted the data, developed the tables and graphs and drafted the manuscript. MLW, the Principal Investigator of the study, conceptualized and designed the study and revised the manuscript critically for important intellectual content. PHT was involved in data collection and analysis. MG revised the manuscript critically for important intellectual content. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



Sex work has shifted from brothels to entertainment establishments (EEs) in Asia. Men who patronise EEs could act as a bridging population for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and sexually transmitted infection (STI) transmission through unprotected sex with the female EE workers to their spouses and regular partners. The aim of this study was to compare the prevalence and factors associated with risky sexual behaviours among the heterosexual men who patronised the EEs and brothels in Singapore.


This was a cross-sectional survey involving 569 heterosexual men (297 recruited from brothels and 272 from EEs). A 2-stage sampling involving proportional stratified random sampling of the brothels and EEs, followed by time location sampling of the men, was conducted. For multivariable analysis, we used a mixed effects logistic model with backward elimination to account for clustering by venue and to obtain the adjusted odds ratio (aOR) for the association of various factors with consistent condom use in vaginal and oral sex respectively.


Men who patronised EEs were younger, more likely to be single, more highly-educated and comprised more professionals compared to the brothel group. On multivariable analysis, consistent condom use for vaginal sex decreased at the EE setting (aOR 0.64; 95 % CI: 0.42 –0.97) and with alcohol use before sex (aOR 0.67; 95 % CI: 0.46 – 0.98) and increased with perceived high risk of getting HIV/STIs from partner (aOR 2.08; 95 % CI: 1.30 – 3.32) and partner’s request for condom use (aOR 5.48; 95 % CI: 1.20 – 25.11). For consistent condom use with oral sex, this decreased at the EE setting (aOR 0.64; 95 % CI: 0.39 – 0.98) and with alcohol use before sex (aOR 0.50; 95 % CI: 0.31 – 0.81) and increased with partner’s request for condom use (aOR 5.19; 95 % CI: 1.38 – 19.57).


Men who patronised EEs practised risker sexual behaviours compared to the brothel group. Priority should be given for intervention programmes to target men who patronise EEs, which could involve the female EE workers, the EE owners as well as the managers for effective HIV/STI prevention.
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