Obligations of motherhood in shaping sex work, condom use, and HIV care among Swazi female sex workers living with HIV

  • Lauren Parmley
  • Rebecca Fielding-Miller
  • Zandile Mnisi
  • Caitlin E. Kennedy
Keywords: HIV, parenthood, female sex workers, sex work, HIV care


Parental obligations influence sexual behaviour among female sex workers (FSW) and may serve as a risk or protective factor for HIV acquisition. How these obligations affect behaviours beyond HIV prevention, including HIV care, is understudied. We analysed 25 interviews conducted with 11 mothers who sell sex and are living with HIV, and 4 key informants as part of a larger study examining the positive health, dignity, and prevention needs of FSW in eSwatini. Despite awareness of HIV reinfection, FSW initiated sex work and engaged in condomless sex due to financial pressures of providing for children. While women attributed having condomless sex to their obligations as a provider, motherhood also served as motivation to engage in HIV care. Further, FSW described children as a source of support in HIV care. Children reminded mothers to take their medications, prepared food to take with medications, and assisted with travel to the clinic.

Keywords: HIV, parenthood, female sex workers; sex work, HIV care


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1608-5906
print ISSN: 1727-9445