Female sex workers and unsafe sex in urban and rural Nyanza, Kenya: regular partners may contribute more to HIV transmission than clients

Trop Med Int Health. 2007 Feb;12(2):174-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3156.2006.01776.x.


Objectives: To compare the sexual behaviour of female sex workers in urban and rural areas in Nyanza province in Kenya, and to compare their unsafe sex with clients and with regular partners.

Methods: In a cross-sectional study among 64 sex workers (32/32 in urban/rural areas), sex workers kept a sexual diary for 14 days after being interviewed face-to-face.

Results: Most sex workers were separated/divorced and had one or two regular partners, who were mostly married to someone else. Sex workers in Kisumu town were younger, had started sex work at an earlier age, and had more clients in the past 14 days than rural women (6.6 vs. 2.4). Both groups had an equal number of sex contacts with regular partners (4.7). With clients, condom use was fairly frequent (75%) but with regular partners, it was rather infrequent (<40%). For both urban and rural areas, the mean number of sex acts in which no condom was used was greater for regular partners (3.2 and 2.8 respectively) than for clients (1.9 and 1.0 respectively).

Conclusions: Sex workers in urban and rural areas of Nyanza province practise more unsafe sex with regular partners than with clients. Interventions for sex workers should also focus on condom use in regular partnerships.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Condoms
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / transmission*
  • Humans
  • Kenya / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Rural Health
  • Sex Work / psychology*
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Sexual Partners*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Unsafe Sex / psychology
  • Urban Health