The HIV prevalence rate in Vancouver is six times the national average, according to leading HIV/AIDS researchers. That prevalence rate includes those living with AIDS.
The study released Thursday also estimated that one in four sex workers in Vancouver are infected with HIV.
However, Susan Davis, who has worked in the sex trade for the past 23 years and has proposed a legal brothel to welcome visitors during the 2010 Olympics, said the number is “absolutely untrue.”
Davis said the number (26 per cent) reflects street-based survival sex workers, some of whom are also injection drug users.
Davis said people who are not working in a survival capacity are less likely to take extra money for unprotected sex.
“We are doing this by choice and are clearly in control of our decisions and aware of the fact that our bodies are our tools. Why would I risk poisoning my tools? You only get one.”
The finding was included in a trio of studies published Thursday by researchers at the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.
The overarching message of the research, said Dr. Julio Montaner, is that inadequate access to HIV/AIDS care burdens the health system and increases mortality. It also disproportionately affects the underprivileged.
Making a greater effort to engage those who are more difficult to reach is ethically right and a smart investment, Montaner said.