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Consistent Condom Use by Female Sex Workers in Kolkata, India: Testing Theories of Economic Insecurity, Behavior Change, Life Course Vulnerability and Empowerment


Consistent condom use (CCU) is the primary HIV/STI prevention option available to sex workers globally but may be undermined by economic insecurity, life-course vulnerabilities, behavioral factors, disempowerment, or lack of effective interventions. This study examines predictors of CCU in a random household survey of brothel-based female sex workers (n = 200) in two neighborhoods served by Durbar (the Sonagachi Project) in Kolkata, India. Multivariate logistic regression analyses indicated that CCU was significantly associated with perceived HIV risk, community mobilization participation, working more days in sex work, and higher proportion of occasional clients to regular clients. Exploratory analyses stratifying by economic insecurity indicators (i.e., debt, savings, income, housing security) indicate that perceived HIV risk and community mobilization were only associated with CCU for economically secure FSW. Interventions with FSW must prioritize economic security and access to social protections as economic insecurity may undermine the efficacy of more direct condom use intervention strategies.

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