J Fam Plann Reprod Health Care. 2013 Jun 21. [Epub ahead of print]

Use of emergency contraceptive pills among female sex workers in Swaziland

Yam EA, Mnisi Z, Maziya S, Kennedy C, Baral S

Source: Associate, Population Council, Washington, DC, USA.

OBJECTIVE: Female sex workers (FSW) often have unprotected sex. Emergency contraceptive pills (ECP) are an important back-up method to prevent unwanted pregnancy among FSW. We examine ECP use among FSW in Swaziland.

METHODS: Using data from a 2011 respondent-driven sampling survey of 325 Swazi FSW, we explored the association between individual characteristics and ever having used ECP.

RESULTS: In weighted analyses, 27.5% of FSW had ever used ECP. Most (77.8%) had ever been pregnant, among whom 48.7% had had an unwanted pregnancy and 11.7% had had an abortion. Nearly half (47.5%) had experienced condom failure in the past month. Significant independent correlates of ECP use were younger age, higher education, higher income, having two or more children, and never having been married.

CONCLUSION: FSW who are older or of lower socioeconomic status may not have adequate access to ECP. By better addressing these women's family planning needs, the dual goals of preventing unwanted pregnancy and preventing vertical transmission of HIV can be achieved.

Comment: In advising female sex workers for any health problem, one should never forget to talk about contraception, if possible the combination hormonal contraception to prevent pregnancy, and barrier contraception to prevent HIV and other STDs. (HMV)