Talking the talk, walking the walk: Social network norms, communication patterns, and condom use among the male partners of female sex workers in La Romana, Dominican Republic

Clare Barrington, Carl A Latkin, Michael D. Sweat, Luis Moreno, Jonathan Ellen, Deanna Kerrigan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Male partners of female sex workers are rarely targeted by HIV prevention interventions in the commercial sex industry, despite recognition of their central role and power in condom use negotiation. Social networks offer a naturally existing social structure to increase male participation in preventing HIV. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between social network norms and condom use among male partners of female sex workers in La Romana, Dominican Republic. Male partners (N = 318) were recruited from 36 sex establishments to participate in a personal network survey. Measures of social network norms included 1) perceived condom use by male social network members and 2) encouragement to use condoms from social network members. Other social network characteristics included composition, density, social support, and communication. The primary behavioral outcome was consistent condom use by male partners with their most recent female sex worker partner during the last 3 months. In general, men reported small, dense networks with high levels of communication about condoms and consistent condom use. Multivariate logistic regression revealed consistent condom use was significantly more likely among male partners who perceived that some or all of their male social network members used condoms consistently. Perceived condom use was, in turn, significantly associated with dense networks, expressing dislike for condoms, and encouragement to use condoms from social network members. Findings suggest that the tight social networks of male partners may help to explain the high level of condom use and could provide an entry point for HIV prevention efforts with men. Such efforts should tap into existing social dynamics and patterns of communication to promote pro-condom norms and reduce HIV-related vulnerability among men and their sexual partners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2037-2044
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 2009



  • Dominican Republic
  • Female sex work
  • HIV
  • Male clients
  • Norms
  • Social networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)

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