Tanzania Journal of Health Research

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HIV/AIDS risk factors and economic empowerment needs of female sex workers in Enugu Urban, Nigeria

NG Onyeneho


While successes are recorded in the developed world with respect to control of HIV/ AIDS, the dream of halting and reversing its spread seems to be a mirage in most parts of the developing world. The forces that drive the transmission of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, as in many other resource poor societies include the activities of high-risk groups. Commercial sex workers remain a major source of HIV/AIDS transmission in Nigeria. The knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) of HIV/AIDS among female sex workers (FSWs) faced with the threat of contracting HIV/AIDS were
assessed. A total of 135 FSWs from four most popular brothels in Enugu were interviewed with a structured interview schedule. Six focus group discussion (FGD) sessions were held with FSWs from neighbouring communities. FSWs in Enugu were of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds.
They were however mostly in their productive ages of 16-47, with a mean age of 26.9 years. Poverty was the common reason for sex work. Some engaged in sex work to provide their school needs and those of other dependants. The respondents were aware of HIV/AIDS and dread being infected by it because of the stigma and absence of cure. Three percent do not use condom at all. Others use unorthodox methods (e.g. douching with salt solution immediately after sex), if a client refuses to use
condom. Condom use depended on the client’s choice. Misconceptions exist among the respondents on mode of transmission. Perceptual factors, more than demographic differences played great role in the attitude of the FSWs towards HIV/AIDS. Steps need to be taken to improve on the level of
knowledge of HIV/AIDS among the respondents. This should cut across socio-demographic lines and should target the perceptual factors, which tended to provide adequate explanation for the attitude of the respondents to HIV/AIDS. The FSWs should be provided with income earning skills to improve their income earner ability and make them self-reliant.

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