Empowering Sex Workers to Negotiate Condom Use: Jummai’s Experience with the Female Condom
Jummai is a 30 year old Female Sex Worker (FSW) in one of the brothels in Dange Shuni Local Government Area (LGA) of Sokoto State. In spite of previous exposure to HIV prevention programmes in Nassarawa State prior to her relocation to Sokoto, Jummai was yet to practice consistent and correct condom use.
Front and back views of the Inn (brothel) where Jummai conducts her sex work business
During her stay in Sokoto she was exposed to peer education sessions by the USAID funded Strengthening HIV Prevention Services for Most-at-Risk Populations (SHiPS for MARPs) project in Nigeria, through a partnering civil society organisation (CSO) – Kwannawa Youth Initiative. Through steadfast attendance in cohort sessions with other peers in the brothel on the prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), use of the female condom as an alternative to male condom for HIV prevention, improving condom negotiation skills with clients including demonstration and provision of free condoms, and opportunities to access HIV counselling and testing (HCT); Jummai became empowered with knowledge and skills necessary to adequately negotiate condom use with clients, especially high paying clients. “Since den I come dey use condom all the time, even if customer say him no want use condom and I want him money, so I go collect the money and enter corner of my room and fix female condom and the customer go think say we no use condom”.
Jummai also took advantage of the free mobile HIV counselling and testing provided by the project to find out her HIV status. Throughout the duration of the intervention in her brothel (4 months) Jummai was provided with free female condoms; however, to prevent dependence on the project for her condom needs and to ensure continuity of condom use behaviour she was linked to a non-traditional outlet (NTO) in her community where she can readily purchase condoms at affordable rates. “One day one customer come give me plenty money say make we no use condom, I come fix my female condom as usual, as we come finish I comot the condom wetin I see na Blood o instead of sperm. Thank God for Female condom”.
The Strengthening HIV Prevention Services for Most-at-Risk Populations (SHiPS for MARPs) project is a five year project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and managed by a consortium of partners. The project primarily focused on populations vulnerable to HIV and AIDS; MARPs and their clients works to prevent new infections by promoting behaviour change through education to increase accurate knowledge, create demand for HIV counselling and testing, consistent condom use and develop appropriate communication intervention to reduce stigma and discrimination.
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