Factors associated with condom breakage among female sex workers in the Western Region of Ghana

Augustine Ankomah, Helen H. Habib, Benedicta K. Atsu, Margaret Atuahene, Priscillia Nortey, Seth Afagbezi, Abubakar Manu


Condoms have been extensively demonstrated as being effective in reducing Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection rates among both men and women. With proper use and production, condom breakage is ideally minimal. However, breakage is reportedly a widespread problem among Female Sex Workers (FSWs), who are classified as a Key Population and warrant special transmission prevention efforts. Nationally, Ghana records an average rate of 5% of condom breakage. This study sought to identify the factors associated with condom breakage among FSWs in the western region of Ghana, a region with an extensive sex worker population and HIV incidence rate of 2.5%, higher than the national average. This study employed a cross-sectional survey among FSW populations in the Western region, Ghana. A sample of 416 participants were proportionately invited between brothel based and roamer communities to participate in the surveys. A total of 403 consented to participate indicating a response rate of 96.9%. Data were analysed for frequencies and prevalence of variables including condom breakage. At the bivariate level, associations with breakage were examined and statistically significant variables were analysed with simple and multiple logistic regression analysis. Of the 403 research participants who consented to participate, 17.4% had experienced breakage over the past week. Brothel-based FSWs were only half as likely to report condom breakage as non-brothel based FSWs (aOR = 0.526; 95% CI, 0.296 - 0.936). Notably, FSWs who consumed alcohol-containing drinks every day were only 65.2% as likely as those who consumed alcohol at least once a week or less than once a week or never to experience condom breakage (aOR = 0.348; 95% CI, 0.164 - 0.740).  The study determined that the occurrence of condom breakage among FSWs in the western region was 17.4%. Factors significantly associated with condom breakage were being non-brothel based, frequency of alcohol consumption and parity. Condom use education programmes targeted at non-brothel based FSWs are necessary to reduce breakage and lower the risk of HIV transmission. (Afr J Reprod Health 2021; 25[4]: 34-42).

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