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Open Access Research article

HIV-related risk behaviours and the correlates among rickshaw pullers of Kamrangirchar, Dhaka, Bangladesh: a cross-sectional study using probability sampling

Md Hafiz Ehsanul Hoque12*, Masako Ono-Kihara1, Saman Zamani1, Shahrzad Mortazavi Ravari1 and Masahiro Kihara1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Global Health and Socio-epidemiology, Kyoto University School of Public Health, Yoshida-Konoe-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan

2 Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Dhaka, Bangladesh

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BMC Public Health 2009, 9:80  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-80

Published: 11 March 2009

Abstract

Background

National HIV serological and behavioural surveillance of Bangladesh repeatedly demonstrated a very high proportion of rickshaw pullers in Dhaka city, having sex with female sex workers (FSWs) and using illicit substances. However, no study has been conducted to identify the correlates of having sex with FSWs among this population. This study aimed to describe behavioural profile of rickshaw pullers in Dhaka city using probability samples and to identify the correlates for having sex with FSWs in order to focus HIV prevention intervention.

Methods

Six hundred rickshaw pullers were randomly selected from rickshaw garages in the Kamrangirchar area, the single largest slum cluster of Dhaka, Bangladesh, during March–April 2008 using the Proportion Probability to Size method. Participants were interviewed, with a response rate of 99.2% (n = 595), using a structured questionnaire and asked about illicit substance use, sexual behaviour and risk perception for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases. Independent predictors of having sex with FSWs were analysed by multivariate analysis. A qualitative study was subsequently conducted with 30 rickshaw pullers to supplement the findings of the initial survey.

Results

The proportion of survey respondents who had sex with FSWs and those who used illicit substances in the previous 12 months period were 7.9% and 24.9%, respectively, much lower than the results achieved in the 2003–04 behavioural surveillance (72.8% and 89.9%, respectively). Multivariate analysis revealed the characteristics of younger age, being never married, living alone with family remaining in other districts and using illicit substances in the previous 12 months were significantly associated with having sex with FSWs.

Conclusion

HIV-related risk behaviour of our study population of the rickshaw pullers was lower than what has been suggested by the results of behavioural surveillance. While this discrepancy should be addressed in further studies, our study emphasizes the importance of focused HIV prevention programs for rickshaw pullers as high-risk behaviour is displayed at an unacceptable level and concentrated in identifiable sub-populations.