Female condoms underutilized in Malawi – report

A situation analysis of magnitude, behavioral patterns, contributing factors, current interventions and impact of sex work in HIV prevention in Malawi has revealed the low utilization of female condoms among sex workers.

The study was commissioned by the Family Planning Association of Malawi (FPAM) with funding from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Of all the sex workers interviewed, only 5.3 percent mentioned use of female condoms.

A woman demonstrating on how a female condom should be used. Photo by Jeromy Kadewere/Nyasa Times

“All sex workers reported condom use at least more than once and this was observed across all ages. Out of 927 who recalled the type of condoms they had ever used, 76.4 percent mentioned male condoms,” read the report in part.

Although sex workers are reported to have used condoms more than once, qualitative findings of the study shows that while condom use is common practice among sex workers, sometimes they don’t use them if offered more money.

As such, the report says the practice puts the lives of both the sex workers and their clients at risk of contracting HIV.

“It’s all about money. The man has already given you the money and he wants it plain so why refuse it. Sibwino kumukhumudwitsa kasitomala ayi,” the report quotes one sex worker at Bwandiro in Lilongwe.

To this effect, the study recommends that there should be a special study to analyze the low utilization of female condoms despite its availability.

“There is an urgent need for a special study to critically analyze factors for the low utilization of female condoms not withstanding availability among sex workers,” recommends the study.

The report captures perceptions, views and experiences of close to 950 sex workers, along with their clients and other stakeholders from 10 districts.

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