At-risk male youth in Cambodia who purchase sex are at greater risk for HIV compared to the general population. Factors associated with paying for sex among youth are poorly studied, both globally and in Cambodia. This study aimed to identify specific factors associated with transactional sex with women among most-at-risk male youth in Cambodia.
This cross-sectional questionnaire survey was conducted with 405 sexually active male youth aged 16–24 recruited at ‘hotspots’ in the capital city of Phnom Penh and seven provinces. We collected data on demographic factors, sexual behaviors, HIV testing and other potential factors. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was used to identify factors associated with transactional sex.
In total, this study included 405 male youth with a mean age of 21.3 (SD = 2.2). Of the total respondents, 82.5% (n = 334) have ever paid for sex. After controlling for potential confounding, participants who purchased sex in the last 12 months remained significantly more likely to be older than 18 (AOR = 3.60, 95% CI = 1.26–10.62), reside in an urban area (AOR = 2.29, 95% CI = 1.24–4.20), never have been married (AOR = 9.58, 95% CI = 4.34–21.12), spend less than 2.55 USD per day (AOR = 2.22, 95% CI = 1.12–4.40), and have had more than 4.6 sexual partners in the past year (AOR = 16.73, 95% CI = 4.71–59.36).
This study highlights the high proportion of Cambodian male youth who paid for sex and the potential challenges to addressing this issue. While the majority of HIV prevention interventions surrounding sex work are aimed at female sex workers themselves, targeting the demand side of sex work, particularly the local demand, may be an important next step towards a sustainable HIV prevention.