Online Program

Female Sex Worker Mothers' Empowerment Strategies amid Social, Economic and HIV/AIDS Risks in Cameroon

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 5:10 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Charles W. Cange, PhD, MSc, Sociology, Anthropology & Health Policy, University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD
Background: Studies have consistently demonstrated that Female Sex Worker (FSW) mothers are banding together to protect each other and their families as Empowerment Strategies. This study examines the main concerns of Cameroonian FSW and proposes interventions to reduce FSW-specific HIV risks.

Methods:  Key informants with allies, in-depth interviews and focus groups with FSW were conducted. Interviews were semi-structured using a guide to describe the FSW social context, FSW knowledge of HIV-related risks and how to improve FSW healthcare services. 
Using a codebook, coded texts were analyzed for recurring themes that led to results.

Results:  First, FSW mothers reported being overwhelmed with physical violence and sexual assault, and demands for bribes to avoid fines and/or prison. They described strategies such as “looking out for” each other when faced with security threats.
Second, many FSW reported staying in sex work so that their children will be financially stable and become college-educated. This will allow their children to “lead a better life” given Cameroon's weak employment situation and sex work's high HIV risk.
Third, FSW mothers did not use condoms when clients offered higher pay, or with intimate partners, even if they understood the risks of HIV transmission to themselves.

Conclusions:  Cameroonian FSW mothers are striving to create family-driven Empowerment Strategies. These FSW are concerned about their children's quality of life over HIV/AIDS risks. FSW consider their children's health risks independent of their own even if they are the children's primary carers. An FSW empowerment program emphasizing family-oriented HIV/AIDS services would offer an influential, novel approach in Cameroon.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Other professions or practice related to public health
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control

Learning Objectives:
Explain Female Sex Worker Empowerment Strategies amid Social, Economic and HIV/AIDS Risks in Cameroon

Keyword(s): Sex Workers, Self-sufficiency and Empowerment

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conceived and carried out the qual analysis. I also wrote up the majority of the results.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.