Background Venues where people meet sexual partners are understood to be important locations where HIV transmission risk plays out and represent potential intervention points. Women involved in sex work and those seeking casual partners spend time in the same venues, forming sexual partnerships with some of the same people and experiencing the same risks. This study provides a characterization of key venues where women meet new sexual partners in Abuja, Nigeria, and describes the sexual behaviours, sexual networking patterns, and challenges experienced by women in these venues.
Methods Key informant interviews were used to characterize 836 venues where people congregate for social activities in Abuja, Nigeria, in terms of number of patrons, busy times, and availability of harm reduction supplies. A questionnaire capturing demographics, behaviours, health, and experiences of violence was administered to 892 women who participate in sex work or casual sex at a random sample of 105 of the profiled venues. Descriptive analysis was conducted with stratification by type of venue.
Results A diverse set of venues were identified, with bars/nightclubs identified as having the highest volume of patrons. Most of the women indicated meeting partners at bars/nightclubs as well as hotels/lodges. Half of the women had experienced a miscarriage or abortion and perceived themselves to be at great risk of HIV infection. Eighteen percent had experienced condom breakage in the previous week, 15% had ever been arrested, and 8% had been beaten in the past year.
Conclusion A diverse set of women intermingle at different venues and have a diverse set of needs, including reproductive health, violence reduction, and infectious disease prevention. By re-orienting HIV programs towards venues where sexual partnerships form instead of towards specific key populations who are often blamed for transmission, the broader needs of a larger group of individuals who attend these venues may be addressed.
Disclosure No significant relationships.
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