AbstractObjective To investigate prevalence and risk factors of syphilis infection among female sex workers (FSWs) in Shenzhen, China. Methods Observational study among (2009–2012) 1653 FSWs recruited by venue‐based sampling using questionnaire‐based interviews for socio‐demographics, behaviours and syphilis testing
results. Logistic regression was used to assess risk factors of syphilis infection. Results The overall syphilis prevalence was 4.7%, showing a slightly decreasing trend. Factors significantly
associated with syphilis infection were inconsistent condom use (OR = 1.87, P = 0.015), illicit drug use (OR = 5.45, P < 0.001) and older age in years (OR = 1.08, P < 0.001). Venues where FSWs were recruited
and duration of commercial sex work were not significantly associated with syphilis infection (P > 0.05). Conclusions Syphilis is still common among FSWs in Shenzhen,
China. Current comprehensive prevention programmes (e.g. condom promotion and peer education) should be continued to maintain and increase safe sexual practices and to reduce illicit drug use among FSWs. Expanding point‐of‐care syphilis screening programmes may be an important
strategy for early diagnosis. We recommend timely and effective treatment programmes to be linked to such screening programmes.