Between 2014 and 2017, a program aimed at reducing HIV risk and promoting safe sex through consistent use of condoms sought to work through addressing social and economic vulnerabilities and strengthening community-led organizations (COs) of female sex workers (FSWs). This study examines if the program was effective by studying relationship between strengthening of COs, vulnerability reduction, and sustaining of consistent condom use behavior among FSWs.
We used a longitudinal study design to assess the change in outcomes. A three-stage sampling design was used to select FSWs for the study. Panel data of 2085 FSWs selected from 38 COs across five states of India was used to examine the change in various outcomes from 2015 (Survey Round 1) to 2017 (Survey Round 2). The CO level program pillar measuring institutional development assessed performance of COs in six domains critical for any organization’s functionality and sustainability: governance, project management, financial management, program monitoring, advocacy and networking, and resource mobilization. Overall, 32 indicators from all these domains were used to compute the CO strength score. A score was computed by taking mean of average dimension scores. The overall score was divided into two groups based on the median cutoff; COs which scored below the median were considered to have low CO strength, while COs which scored above or equal to median were considered to have high CO strength. Multivariable regression modeling techniques were used to examine the effect of program pillars on outcome measures.
Analyses showed a significant improvement in the strength of the COs over time; percentage of COs having high strength improved from 50% in 2015 to 87% in Round 2. The improvement in CO’s strength increased financial security (Adjusted Odds Ratio [AOR]: 2.18, p < 0.01), social welfare security (AOR: 1.71, p<0.01), and socio-legal security (AOR: 2.20, p < 0.01) among FSWs. Further, improvement in financial security led to significant increase in consistent condom use with client among FSWs (AOR: 1.69, p < 0.01) who were members of COs having high strength. Sustained consistent condom use was positively associated with young age ( < 30 years), ability to negotiate with clients for condom use, membership in self-help groups, high self-efficacy, self-confidence, and client solicitation in streets and brothels.
Improving financial security and strengthening FSW led CO can improve sustained and consistent condom use. In addition, the program should focus on enhancing ability of FSWs to negotiate with clients for condom use, promote membership in self-help groups and target FSWs who are 30 years or older, and soliciting from homes to sustain consistent condom use across all FSWs.