Objective: To examine risk factors for preinvasive and invasive lesions of the cervix in Venezuelan female sex workers (FSW).
Methods: A total of 438 FSW were analysed. Each FSW had their clinical history recorded, a gynaecological examination, a Pap smear and a colposcopic examination of the cervix. A cervical biopsy was taken under colposcopic guidance when there was an abnormal epithelium. The statistical methods used were Student's t-test, χ2 test and logistic regression.
Results: The sex workers’ mean age was 32.1 ± 7.9 years old (mean ± standard deviation). The age of the first sexual intercourse activity for the FSW was 15.9 ± 2.1 years. Sixty-four of the 84 women (76.2%) who had cervical biopsies had preinvasive and invasive lesions; 41 (9.4%) had cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia (CIN) 1, 12 (2.7%) had CIN 2, eight (1.8%) had CIN 3, two (0.5%) had microinvasive carcinoma, and one (0.2%) had invasive carcinoma. Forty of these 64 women (62.5%) with preinvasive or invasive lesions had a concurrent histological diagnosis of human papilloma virus (HPV) infection (P < 0.0001). The FSW with cervical pathology were younger (P < 0.05) and had their first sexual intercourse earlier (P < 0.02) than FSW with no pathology. Two hundred and seventy-six (63%) of the FSW were current smokers, and 47 of these women (17.6%) had cervical pathology (P < 0.03).
Conclusions: First sexual experience before 20 years of age, cigarette smoking and HPV infection were high-risk factors for preinvasive and invasive lesions of the cervix in Venezuelan FSW.