In this qualitative study of brothel-based Female Sex Workers (FSWs), the authors explored factors that influence safe sex practices of FSWs within an integrated HIV intervention. Qualitative methods, including focus group discussions (FGDs), in-depth interviews and key informant interviews were applied in four brothels in Bangladesh. Young and elderly FSWs, Sordarnis (Madams who own young FSWs and who may be either active or inactive sex workers themselves), program managers and providers were the participants for this study. Findings showed that condom use was high but not consistent among bonded FSWs (those who are under the control of a Sordarni) who have regular clients. The bonded FSWs reported being maltreated by the Sordarnis for refusing to have sex without a condom, and access to health services was hindered by Sordarnis. Implications of the study are that integrated HIV intervention should provide more encouragement to relevant stakeholders to promote mutual support towards safe sex practices for the FSWs.


Female Sex Workers, HIV/AIDS, Qualitative Research


This research was funded by UNICEF under the stewardship of the Health Nutrition and Population Sectors Program (HNPSP) of the Bangladesh Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Grant number 00615). We thank our collaborating partners Mr. Milon Bikash Paul, Executive Director, Population Service and Training Center (PSTC); Dr. Nitai Kanti Das, Director (Training and Communication), PSTC; Mr. Akhtaruzzaman, Team Leader, PSTC, Community Health Care Project (CHCP); and ICDDR, B Consortium of HIV/AIDS Targeted Intervention (HATI). We would like to acknowledge the sex workers who participated in the data collection process. Special thanks are due to the managers of the project and healthcare providers to the sex workers for their cooperation in conducting the study in the selected brothels.

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