Inconsistent Condom Use Among Female Sex Workers: Partner-specific Influences of Substance Use, Violence, and Condom Coercion

Michele R. Decker, Ju Nyeong Park, Sean T. Allen, Bradley Silberzahn, Katherine Footer, Steven Huettner, Noya Galai, Susan G. Sherman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Female sex workers (FSWs) are disproportionately affected by HIV. Inconsistent condom use (ICU) represents the most proximal risk for acquisition and transmission. We evaluate associations of partner-specific factors including physical and sexual violence, coercion, and substance use with ICU with clients and regular non-paying partners, respectively, among FSWs. Baseline survey data from a prospective cohort of 250 street-based FSW in Baltimore, Maryland, USA included partner-level drug and alcohol use, violence, condom coercion and ICU, in addition to individual and structural exposures. Logistic regression analyses were stratified by partner type, followed by path analysis where indicated. Within client and regular non-paying partnerships, FSWs reported prevalent recent violence (34.8%, 16%, respectively), condom coercion (42.4%, 9.9%, respectively) and ICU (39.2%, 44.4%, respectively). Recent physical or sexual violence enabled coercive condom negotiation (AORclient 8.22, 95% CI 4.30, 15.73; AORnonpayingpartner 3.01 95% CI 1.05, 8.63). ICU with clients was associated with client condom coercion (AOR 1.76, 95% CI 1.03, 3.02), and client intoxication during sex (AOR 2.25, 95% CI 1.13, 4.45). In path analysis of client-FSW partnerships, condom coercion fully mediated the influences of both sex worker intoxication and recent violence on ICU. ICU with non-paying partners was associated with FSW intoxication during sex (AOR 8.66, 95% CI 3.73, 20.10), and past-year police violence (AOR 2.92, 1.30, 6.57). Partner-level substance use and gendered power differentials influenced FSWs’ ICU patterns differently by partner type. ICU with clients was rooted solely in partner factors, and coercive condom negotiation mediated the roles of violence and partner-level substance use on ICU. By contrast, ICU with non-paying partners was rooted in partner-level substance use and police violence as a structural determinant. Addressing HIV risk behavior for FSWs requires condom promotion efforts tailored to partner type that addresses power differentials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)762-774
Number of pages13
JournalAIDS and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Condom
  • HIV
  • Injection drug use
  • Substance use
  • Violence
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Social Psychology


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