Ed note. The following post is the first installment of our new PSI Research Series in which we highlight some intriguing studies on behavior and global health to which PSI experts have contributed. For each study, we will lay out a simple explanation of what was discovered and share insights from one of its authors.
In this first installment, we take a look at the study Dangerous subtlety: relationship-related determinants of consistency of condom use among female sex workers and their regular, non-commercial partners in Hai Phong, Viet Nam by Leah Hoffman and Trace S. Kershaw.
Worldwide, regular sexual partners are less likely to use condoms than partners who engage in casual (ie. one night stand) or commercial (sex worker/client) sex.
In Hai Pong, Vietnam, 50 sex workers and their partners were interviewed about their relationship and condom use. Researchers found that the sex workers reported higher HIV communication content than their partners. They observed that a higher divergence between the two partners increased the likelihood that condoms were not used during sex.
The authors suggest that sex workers need support to improve their communication skills with their respective partners.
The Expert’s Take
The study’s lead research, PSI’s Leah Hoffman, writes for Healthy Lives:
Worldwide, condom use is lower with regular partners than in sexual partnerships that are casual (one night stand) or commercial (sex worker/client). Our research was to better understand why. A study in China found that sex workers who reported that their boyfriends had other sexual partners were more likely to have HIV than those who did not. Low condom use in regular partnerships, particular among those with multiple partners, is a potential driver in HIV epidemics and is largely ignored in interventions.