Background: Despite considerable efforts to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STI) among female sex workers (FSW), other sexual and reproductive health (SRH) needs, such preventing unintended pregnancies, among FSW have received far less attention. Programs targeting FSW with comprehensive, accessible services are needed to address their broader SRH needs. This study tested the effectiveness of an intervention to increase dual contraceptive method use to prevent STIs, HIV and unintended pregnancy among FSW attending services in drop-in centers (DIC) in two cities in Kenya. The intervention included enhanced peer education, and routine screening for family planning (FP) needs plus expanded non-condom FP method availability in the DIC.
Methods: We conducted a two-group, pre-/posttest, quasi-experimental study with 719 FSW (360 intervention group, 359 comparison group). Participants were interviewed at baseline and 6 months later to examine changes in condom and non-condom FP method use.
Results: The intervention had a significant positive effect on non-condom, FP method use (OR = 1.38, 95%CI (1.04, 1.83)), but no effect on dual method use. Consistent condom use was reported to be high; however, many women also reported negotiating condom use with both paying and non-paying partners as difficult or very difficult. The strongest predictor of consistent condom use was partner type (paying versus non-paying/emotional); FSW reported both paying and non-paying partners also influence non-condom contraceptive use. Substantial numbers of FSW also reported experiencing sexual violence by both paying and non-paying partners.
Conclusions: Self-reported difficulties with consistent condom use and the sometimes dangerous conditions under which they work leave FSW vulnerable to unintended pregnancy STIs/HIV. Adding non-barrier FP methods to condoms is crucial to curb unintended pregnancies and their potential adverse health, social and economic consequences. Findings also highlight the need for additional strategies beyond condoms to reduce HIV and STI risk among FSW.
Trial registration: Clinicaltrials.gov NCT01957813.