Objective: Female sex workers (FSWs) need access to contraceptive services, yet programs often focus on HIV prevention and less on the broader sexual and reproductive health needs of FSWs. We aimed to identify barriers to accessing contraceptive services among FSWs and preferences for contraceptive service delivery options among FSWs and health care providers (HCPs) in order to inform a service delivery intervention to enhance access to and use of contraceptives for FSWs in Kenya.
Study design: Twenty focus group discussions were conducted with FSWs and HCPs in central Kenya.
Results: Three barriers were identified that limited the ability of FSWs to access contraceptive services: (1) an unsupportive clinic infrastructure, which consisted of obstructive factors such as long wait times, fees, inconvenient operating hours and perceived compulsory HIV testing; (2) discriminatory provider-client interactions, where participants believed negative and differential treatment from female and male staff members impacted FSWs' willingness to seek medical services; and (3) negative partner influences, including both nonpaying and paying partners. Drop-in centers followed by peer educators and health care facilities were identified as preferred service delivery options.
Conclusions: FSWs may not be able to regularly access contraceptive services until interpersonal (male partners) and structural (facilities and providers) barriers are addressed. Alternative delivery options, such as drop-in centers coupled with peer educators, may be an approach worth evaluating.
Implications statement: An unsupportive clinic infrastructure, discriminatory provider-client interactions and negative partner influences are barriers to FSWs accessing the contraception services they need. Alternative service delivery options, such integrating contraceptive service delivery at drop-in centers designed for FSWs and information delivery through peer educators, might provide improved access and better service quality to FSWs seeking contraception.
Keywords: Africa; Contraceptives; Female sex workers; Service delivery.
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