Social Science Programme / Social context of sexual partnerships among women at high risk in Kampala, Uganda

Lead Research Organisation: MRC/UVRI Uganda Research Unit on AIDS

Abstract

A considerable amount of work has been done describing different types of sex work. However little detailed work documenting the lives and livelihoods of women living at high risk of HIV infection and other sexually transmitted infections has been carried out in Uganda. In order to contribute to filling a research gap, this project uses in-depth interviews and diaries, to record womens life histories and information on sexual partnerships. We not only consider womens clients but also their `permanent partners, some of whom we will interview (with the womans consent). The main purpose of this research is to study the social context of sexual partnerships among women at high risk to explore the nature of partnerships, risk perception and risk behaviour. We are documenting the life histories, including past and present sexual behaviour, risk perception, determinants of vulnerability of women at high risk and where possible, partners and clients; characterising the process of partnership formation and conducting pilot interventions to address vulnerability to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and evaluate them.

Technical Summary

A considerable amount of work has been done describing different types of sex work, however, little detailed work documenting the lives and livelihoods of women at high risk has been carried out in Uganda. In order to contribute to filling a research gap, this project uses in-depth interviews and diaries, to record womens life histories and information on sexual partnerships. We will not only consider womens clients but also their `permanent partners. The main purpose of this research is to study the social context of sexual partnerships among women at high risk of HIV infection and STDs to explore the nature of partnerships, risk perception and risk behaviour. We are documenting the life histories, including past and present sexual behaviour, risk perception, determinants of vulnerability of women at high risk and where possible, partners and clients; characterising the process of partnership formation and conducting pilot interventions to address vulnerability to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and evaluate them. We have six research questions: 1. What do women at high risks careers tell us about definitions of sex work and sex workers in Kampala? 2. Are the terms `regular, `steady, `spouse meaningful terms to use in the context of sex worker relationships and how might these change over time? What makes a sex worker become emotionally and economically attached to a certain partner (perhaps a regular client or `boy friend). How are the terms defined by women at high risk; why is, for example, a partner, called `steady or a `spouse? 3. Do women at high risk use condoms with clients but not with regular partners? 4. How does alcohol and other substance use (by either sex worker or client) affect the scope for introducing interventions to protect women at high risk and clients from infection (and violence?) 5. What interventions are feasible to improve the well-being of women at high risk? 6. How can women at high risk clients be reached with interventions on sexual health?
This work is funded from the core budget of the MRC/UVRI Uganda Research Unit and from a grant of the EDCTP.

Publications

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