Unmet need for family planning and experience of unintended pregnancy among female sex workers in urban cameroon: Results from a national cross-sectional study

Anna L. Bowring, Sheree Schwartz, Carrie Lyons, Amrita Rao, Oluwasolape Olawore, Iliassou Mfochive Njindam, Jimmy Nzau, Ghislaine Fouda, Guy H. Fako, Gnilane Turpin, Daniel Levitt, Sandra Georges, Ubald Tamoufe, Serge C. Billong, Oudou Njoya, Anne Cécile Zoung-Kanyi, Stefan Baral

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Female sex workers (FSWs) in Cameroon commonly have unmet need for contraception posing a high risk of unintended pregnancy. Unintended pregnancy leads to a range of outcomes, and due to legal restrictions, FSWs often seek unsafe abortions. Aside from the high burden of HIV, little is known about the broader sexual and reproductive health of FSWs in Cameroon. Methods: From December 2015 to October 2016, we recruited FSWs aged ≥18 years through respondent-driven sampling across 5 Cameroonian cities. Cross-sectional data were collected through a behavioral questionnaire. Modified-robust Poisson regression was used to approximate adjusted prevalence ratios (aPR) for TOP and current use of effective nonbarrier contraception. Results: Among 2,255 FSWs (median age 28 years), 57.6% reported history of unintended pregnancy and 40.0% reported prior TOP. In multivariable analysis, TOP history was associated with current nonbarrier contraceptive use (aPR=1.23, 95% confidence interval [CI]= 1.07, 1.42); ever using emergency contraception (aPR=1.34, 95% CI=1.17, 1.55); >60 clients in the past month (aPR=1.29, 95% CI= 1.07, 1.54) compared to ≤30; inconsistent condom use with clients (aPR=1.17, 95% CI=1.00, 1.37); ever experiencing physical violence (aPR=1.24, 95% CI=1.09, 1.42); and older age. Most (76.5%) women used male condoms for contraception, but only 33.2% reported consistent condom use with all partners. Overall, 26.4% of women reported currently using a nonbarrier contraceptive method, and 6.2% reported using a long-acting method. Previous TOP (aPR=1.41, 95%CI=1.16, 1.72) and ever using emergency contraception (aPR=2.70, 95% CI=2.23, 3.26) were associated with higher nonbarrier contraceptive use. Recent receipt of HIV information (aPR=0.72, 95% CI=0.59, 0.89) and membership in an FSW community-based organization (aPR=0.73, 95% CI=0.57, 0.92) were associated with lower use nonbarrier contraceptive use. Conclusions: Experience of unintended pregnancies and TOP is common among FSWs in Cameroon. Given the low use of nonbarrier contraceptive methods and inconsistent condom use, FSWs are at risk of repeat unintended pregnancies. Improved integration of client-centered, voluntary family planning within community-led HIV services may better support the sexual and reproductive health and human rights of FSWs consistent with the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-99
Number of pages18
JournalGlobal Health Science and Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 30 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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