Poverty, Sexual Practices and Vulnerability of Female Sex Workers to HIV/AIDs in Oyo State South-West Nigeria

Author(s): Ogundele R.O1, Bako J.C2, Titus O.M2, Sogunro E1.

Institute(s): Society for Family Health2, Royal Heritage Health Foundation1

Poster Presentation: 20th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Rwanda (ICASA 2019) Kigali 2 – 7 December 2019.

Issues: In Nigeria, HIV prevalence among sex workers is eight times higher than the rest of the-population. Poverty/stigma/discrimination/violence, punitive legal/social environments are key determinants of increased HIV vulnerability among this target group. 

Programme Description: Supported by the Global Fund, SFH partnered with SRs/CBOs to reduce prevalence of HIV/AIDs, expand access to RH/HIV/STI prevention among FSWs using MPPI.  MPPI meets FSW specific needs using 3 strategies – behavioural/biomedical/structural approaches. 1500 Female-Sex-Workers in more than 5 communities in 15 brothels in Oyo state South-West-Nigeria participated in the 3 months’ programme. Sex-workers were selected/trained as PEs who in-turn select/reach their peers with SRH/STI/HIV information/messages 3 times monthly. OSS facility was created, and health workers were trained on providing friendly services to MARPs referred to the OSS facility. Support groups were formed to cater for the FSW living with HIV/AIDs. Outreach workers/key stakeholders were engaged, income generating activities and off sites STI outreach were provided for over 120 sex-workers. Peer tracking cards were developed/used to track health services provided to FSWs and data were collected.  IEC materials, lubricant/condoms were distributed to sex workers on a monthly basis.     

Programme Implications/lessons: Poverty, multiple sexual partnering, inconsistency in condom use, lack of knowledge and empowerment increases the rate of STI/HIV infection among Sex Workers in the state. Family planning knowledge among sex workers was low. Drug and alcohol abuse were widely reported to have encouraged unintended sexual activity and influenced FSW to engage in risky sexual behaviour including engaging in violence and unsafe sex. Most of the girls became sex workers because they do not have alternative means of livelihood and some were enslaved into sex work due to the fact that their parents could not provide for them.

Next Step: To reduce sexual practices and vulnerability of Female Sex workers to HIV/AIDs, interventions must be targeted to KPs sites. Poverty will drastically reduce if FSW capacities are built on income generating activities. There is need to advocate for condom demonstrations/usage in the communities where it is not allowed.

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