BY Bob Adams
May 15 2003 12:00 AM ET
Sex workers and transportation employees who work near the United States'Mexico border could spread HIV widely in both Central America and North America, according to two recent studies by researchers at the University of Houston.
Graduate School of Social Work professor Avelardo Valdez and his colleagues studied the high-risk sexual behavior and injection drug use of sex workers in the regions of Ciudad Ju'rez and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. They discovered that a large proportion of the sex workers were engaging in unprotected sex with tourists and men employed in the transportation industry, including long-haul truckers arriving from regions throughout the United States.
'Keep in mind that this is how the virus is believed to have spread throughout sub-Saharan Africa'as transportation workers moved through border regions,' Valdez says, noting that once infected, the workers carry the virus to other communities they travel to and to their hometowns.
Valdez hopes his research will lead to additional, larger studies on border sex workers and how to minimize HIV transmissions between them and other high-risk populations.