Sexual and reproductive health correlates of polysubstance use among female adolescents who sell sex in the southwest of China

Auteurs & affiliatie

Xudong Zhang, Jun Zhang, Ren-Sheng Xie, Wei Hong Zhang


Background Substance use and adverse sexual and reproductive health (SRH) outcomes continue to be significant threats to female adolescents' health and wellbeing, particularly to these marginalized subpopulations. Our research aimed to tackle knowledge gaps regarding the prevalence of concurrent substance use including alcohol, tobacco, illicit drug among Chinese adolescent female sex workers (AFSWs), while to assess the correlates between substance use and SRH risks; the needs for comprehensive SRH services were also examined in this study. Methods A cross-sectional study enrolled 310 AFSWs aged 15-19 years by using cluster sampling method in Kunming, China. Descriptive analysis was employed to characterize the participants who were regular-alcohol users, regular-tobacco users, illicit drug users and polysubstance users. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was performed to detect the SRH correlates of regular-alcohol use, regular-tobacco use, illicit drugs and polysubstance use respectively. Results There is a high prevalence of regular-alcohol drinking (83%, 257/310) among AFSWs, with 44% (136/310) smoking cigarettes regularly and 9% using illicit drug (27/310) in the past year. In multivariate analysis, AFSWs who had middle and high school education, had higher monthly income, experienced of sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) and prior abortion, and regular-tobacco smoking were associated with increased odds of regular-alcohol drinking; engaging in unprotected sex while drunk, having STIs symptoms and using illicit drugs were significantly associated with regular-tobacco smoking; while AFSWs who had an illicit drug using- intimate partner, experienced forced sexual initiation, accessed unsafe medical providers for STIs treatment were associate with increased odds of illicit drug use. Moreover, 35% (105/298) AFSWs sought unsafe medical care for STIs treatment, or no treatment at all, among them, majority were using polysubstance (87%; 91/105). Conclusions Our findings reveal combined threats of substance use to AFSWs' SRH and wellbeing in China, this study emphasises that the coordinated efforts are needed to integrate SRH promotion and harm reduction service across sectors, and not only fragmented measures. An effective response should include an agreed framework, indicators and targets supported by political will, solid leadership and policy reform to deal with AFSWs' overlapping vulnerabilities in a systematic way.




Wei-Hong Zhang

Link naar publicatie

Open link


BMC-SubstanceAbuseTreatmentPreventionPolicy-2020-Agu-XutongWHZhang.pdf (open)

Gerelateerde publicaties