Female sex workers are at heightened risk of both HIV infection and unwanted pregnancy. Nonbarrier modern contraceptives are highly effective at preventing pregnancy, but offer no HIV protection. A better understanding of sex workers’ use of condoms and nonbarrier methods is needed to help them meet their contraceptive and STI protection needs.
A 2011 respondent-driven sampling survey collected reproductive health and contraceptive use data from 325 female sex workers in Swaziland. Multinomial logistic regression analysis was used to identify associations between selected characteristics and four outcomes of contraceptive use over the past month: consistent condom use alone; nonbarrier modern contraceptive use (either alone or with inconsistent condom use); dual method use; and inconsistent condom use, other method use or nonuse. Adjusted predicted probabilities were also calculated to determine patterns of association.
After adjustments were made for background and behavioral factors, 16% of female sex workers were found to be consistent users of condoms alone; 39% used nonbarrier modern methods (without consistent condom use); 8% were dual method users; and 38% were inconsistent condom users or used other methods or none. Women who reported recent condom failure were less likely than others to be consistent condom users (6% vs. 22%). Consistent use of condoms alone was more common among women who had had no noncommercial partners in the past month than among those who reported two or more such partners (39% vs. 3%). In addition, respondents who had children were more likely than their nulliparous counterparts to report use of nonbarrier methods alone (65% vs. 14%).
Inconsistent or no condom use among nonbarrier contraceptive users underscores the need to incorporate HIV prevention into family planning interventions, particularly among female sex workers who have children and noncommercial partners.