The study, led by Professor Prabhat Jha from U of T's Dalla Lana School of Public Health and St. Michael's Hospital's Centre for Global Health Research (CGHR), examined the impact of prevention among female sex workers whose contact with male clients contributes substantially to new HIV infections in the general population.
The virus is then spread to the wives and other sex partners of these male clients.
Lead author CGHR's Paul Arora said that they not only have to prevent HIV, but also other infections like syphilis.
He asserted that prevention among sex workers can reduce various infections, and prompt treatment of sexually transmitted infections is particularly important.
The authors examined data from 868 prevention projects - serving about 500,000 female sex workers - implemented between 1995 and 2008.
They found that reaching sex workers through prevention programs decreased HIV and syphilis infection rates among young pregnant women tested routinely at government prenatal health clinics.
Levels of HIV fell by 40 per cent and the levels of syphilis fell by 70 per cent among pregnant women (who represent new infections in the population) between 2003 and 2008.