The prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus infection and the perceptions of sexually transmitted infections among homeless women
Background: Homeless women can provide valuable information about the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), especially human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, in Iran. However, they are not readily accessible for epidemiological studies and hence, there is limited information about HIV infection prevalence among them. Objectives: The aim of the present study was to assess the prevalence of HIV infection and the perceptions of STIs among homeless women in Tehran, Iran. Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted in 2014. Participants were 241 homeless women who were recruited through quota sampling from twelve drop-in centers and night shelters affiliated to a local welfare organization in Tehran, Iran. Data were collected using the perception of STIs Questionnaire as well as serological testing for HIV infection using DS-EIA-HIV-Ag/Ab-Screen kit (manufactured in Italy). Descriptive statistics measures and the independent-samples t-test were used for data description and analysis. Results: The prevalence of HIV infection was 8.3%. There were significant differences between HIV-positive and HIV-negative women respecting their overall STI risk perception (P = 0.003) and its two subscales, namely insufficient knowledge (P = 0.007) and inconsistent condom use (P = 0.030). Conclusion: Homeless women have low STI risk perception. Training and counseling programs are necessary to improve their STI-related knowledge, perception, and attitudes.