Sex trade among young women attending family-planning clinics in Northern California

Michele R. Decker, Elizabeth Miller, Heather L. McCauley, Daniel J. Tancredi, Rebecca R. Levenson, Jeffrey Waldman, Phyllis Schoenwald, Jay G. Silverman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To describe the prevalence and nature of sex trade in a clinic-based sample of young women and to evaluate associations with sexual and reproductive health. Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted with women aged 16-29 years (n = 1277) presenting to family-planning clinics in Northern California, USA. Results: Overall, 8.1% of respondents indicated a lifetime history of trading sex for money or other resources. Sex trade was associated with unintended pregnancy (adjusted risk ratio [ARR] 1.27; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.09-1.48), multiple abortions (ARR 1.63; 95% CI, 1.19-2.23), STI diagnosis (ARR 1.46; 95% CI, 1.27-1.68), and unwanted sex (vaginal ARR 3.64; 95% CI, 2.39-5.56; anal ARR 4.99; 95% CI, 2.17-11.50). Of the women ever involved in sex trade, 12 (37.3%) reported that their first such experience was before they were 18 years of age. Conclusion: Approximately 1 in 12 participants had been involved in sex trade, illustrating the presence of patients with this history within the family-planning clinical setting. Sex trade was associated with multiple indicators of poor sexual and reproductive health. Family-planning clinics may represent an underused mechanism for engaging this high-risk population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-177
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2012


  • Reproductive health
  • Sex trade
  • Sexual risk
  • Unintended pregnancy
  • Violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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