Abortion services for sex workers in Uganda: successful strategies in an urban clinic

Heather M. Marlow, Kristen Shellenberg, Erick Yegon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Sex workers' need for safe abortion services in Uganda is greater than that of the population of women of reproductive age because of their number of sexual contacts, the inconsistent use of contraception and their increased risk of forced sex, rape or other forms of physical and sexual violence. We sought to understand sex workers' experiences with induced abortion services or post-abortion care (PAC) at an urban clinic in Uganda. We conducted nine in-depth interviews with sex workers. All in-depth interviews were audiotaped, transcribed, translated, computer recorded and coded for analysis. We identified several important programmatic considerations for safe abortion services for sex workers. Most important is creating community-level interventions in which women can speak openly about abortion, creating a support network among sex workers, training peer educators, and making available a community outreach educator and community outreach workshops on abortion. At the health facility, it is important for service providers to treat sex workers with care and respect, allow sex workers to be accompanied to the health facility and guarantee confidentiality. These programmatic elements help sex workers to access safe abortion services and should be tried with all women of reproductive age to improve women's access to safe abortion in Uganda.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)931-943
Number of pages13
JournalCulture, Health and Sexuality
Issue number8
StatePublished - Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Uganda
  • abortion
  • reproductive health services
  • sex workers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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