Social cohesion, social participation, and HIV related risk among female sex workers in Swaziland

Virginia A. Fonner, Deanna Kerrigan, Zandile Mnisi, Sosthenes Ketende, Caitlin E. Kennedy, Stefan Baral

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Social capital is important to disadvantaged groups, such as sex workers, as a means of facilitating internal group-related mutual aid and support as well as access to broader social and material resources. Studies among sex workers have linked higher social capital with protective HIV-related behaviors; however, few studies have examined social capital among sex workers in sub-Saharan Africa. This cross-sectional study examined relationships between two key social capital constructs, social cohesion among sex workers and social participation of sex workers in the larger community, and HIV-related risk in Swaziland using respondent-driven sampling. Relationships between social cohesion, social participation, and HIV-related risk factors were assessed using logistic regression. HIV prevalence among the sample was 70.4% (223/317). Social cohesion was associated with consistent condom use in the past week (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 2.25, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.30-3.90) and was associated with fewer reports of social discrimination, including denial of police protection. Social participation was associated with HIV testing (AOR = 2.39, 95% CI: 1.36-4.03) and using condoms with non-paying partners (AOR = 1.99, 95% CI: 1.13-3.51), and was inversely associated with reported verbal or physical harassment as a result of selling sex (AOR = 0.55, 95% CI: 0.33-0.91). Both social capital constructs were significantly associated with collective action, which involved participating in meetings to promote sex worker rights or attending HIV-related meetings/ talks with other sex workers. Social- and structural-level interventions focused on building social cohesion and social participation among sex workers could provide significant protection from HIV infection for female sex workers in Swaziland.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere87527
JournalPloS one
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 31 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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