Poverty and InequalitySexual and Reproductive HealthFamily, Maternal & Child HealthMethodology

Gender-based violence against female sex workers in Cameroon: prevalence and associations with sexual HIV risk and access to health services and justice

TitleGender-based violence against female sex workers in Cameroon: prevalence and associations with sexual HIV risk and access to health services and justice
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsDecker, MR, Lyons, C, Billong, SC, Njindam, IM, Grosso, A, Nunez, GT, Tumasang, F, LeBreton, M, Tamoufe, U, Baral, S
JournalSex Transm Infect
Date PublishedDec
ISBN Number1472-3263 (Electronic)1368-4973 (Linking)
Accession Number27280972
Keywords*Africa, *Commercial sex, *Hiv, *Sexual abuse, *Social Justice, *Women, Adolescent, Cameroon/epidemiology, Condoms/*utilization, Cross-Sectional Studies, Female, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, Health Services Accessibility/*statistics & numerical data, HIV Infections/*prevention & control/psychology, Humans, Intimate Partner Violence/legislation & jurisprudence/statistics & numerical data, Male, Prevalence, Risk Factors, Sex Factors, Sex Workers/psychology/*statistics & numerical data, Sexual Behavior/psychology/*statistics & numerical data, Sexual Partners/*psychology, Violence/legislation & jurisprudence/*statistics & numerical data, Women's Health, Workplace Violence/legislation & jurisprudence/statistics & numerical data, Young Adult

BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: Female sex workers (FSWs) are at risk for HIV and physical and sexual gender-based violence (GBV). We describe the prevalence of lifetime GBV and its associations with HIV risk behaviour, access to health services and barriers in accessing justice among FSWs in Cameroon. METHODS: FSWs (n=1817) were recruited for a cross-sectional study through snowball sampling in seven cities in Cameroon. We examined associations of lifetime GBV with key outcomes via adjusted logistic regression models. RESULTS: Overall, 60% (1098/1817) had experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. GBV was associated with inconsistent condom use with clients (adjusted OR (AOR) 1.49, 95% CI 1.18 to 1.87), being offered more money for condomless sex (AOR 2.09, 95% CI 1.56 to 2.79), having had a condom slip or break (AOR 1.53, 95% CI 1.25 to 1.87) and difficulty suggesting condoms with non-paying partners (AOR 1.47, 95% CI 1.16 to 1.87). Violence was also associated with fear of health services (AOR 2.25, 95% CI 1.61 to 3.16) and mistreatment in a health centre (AOR 1.66, 95% CI 1.01 to 2.73). Access to justice was constrained for FSWs with a GBV history, specifically feeling that police did not protect them (AOR 1.41, 95% CI 1.12 to 1.78). DISCUSSION: Among FSWs in Cameroon, violence is prevalent and undermines HIV prevention and access to healthcare and justice. Violence is highly relevant to FSWs' ability to successfully negotiate condom use and engage in healthcare. In this setting of criminalised sex work, an integrated, multisectoral GBV-HIV strategy that attends to structural risk is needed to enhance safety, HIV prevention and access to care and justice.