More than three-fourths of women sex workers who participated in a study said they did not use condoms while having sex with their husbands or partners.
A hundred workers were interviewed for the study in December last year. It was conducted by researchers from School of Health Systems Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences’ (TISS). The findings were published in the ‘Journal of AIDS and HIV Research’ in January.
Non-paying partners here mean sex workers’ husbands, or live-in partners. 64% of the interviewed women said they had sex with their partners regularly.
The authors of the paper said the findings indicate to a worrying trend, as the majority of the sex workers perceive non-paying sex to be safe.
“This is particularly serious, given that 36% of the respondents said they are fully aware that their non- paying partners have other partners,” said Dr Adithyan GS, the lead author of the paper, who works as a Research Assistant in TISS.
“Women cited their desire for intimate and loving relationships as a key factor for not using condom,” Dr Adithyan said. He added that a bigger sample size was needed to to get a clear picture.
Several studies have indicated that HIV prevalence among female sex worker is about 15 times higher compared to general population in the country. Dr Srikala Acharya, director, Maharashtra District AIDS Control Society, said the condom usage with non-paying sex partners is being studied as a part of National Integrated Biological Behavioural Surveillance (NIBBS), under the aegis of NACO. According to the NIBBS data, 44% of female sex worker registered in Maharashtra said they use condoms while having sex with their non-paying partners, which was relatively higher than some southern states such as Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.