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Social Support Associated with Condom Use Behavior Among Female Sex Workers in Iran

  • Jorjoran Shushtari, Zahra1
  • Mirzazadeh, Ali2, 3
  • SeyedAlinaghi, SeyedAhmad4
  • Hosseini, Seyed Ali1
  • Sajjadi, Homeira1
  • Salimi, Yahya5
  • Snijders, Tom A. B.6, 7
  • 1 University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences,
  • 2 HIV/STI Surveillance Research Center, and WHO Collaborating Center for HIV Surveillance, Kerman University of Medical Sciences,
  • 3 University of California San Francisco,
  • 4 HIV/AIDS, Iranian Institute for Reduction of High-Risk Behaviors, Tehran University of Medical Sciences,
  • 5 Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences,
  • 6 University of Groningen,
  • 7 Nuffield College, University of Oxford,
Published Article
International Journal of Behavioral Medicine
Publication Date
Sep 02, 2021
DOI: 10.1007/s12529-021-10017-x
PMID: 34476736
PMCID: PMC8412856
PubMed Central
  • Full Length Manuscript


Background Despite the widespread knowledge about social support and health, there is little information about the association between social support and HIV risk behaviors such as condom use among female sex workers (FSWs) in Iran. This study aimed to determine the association between social support and frequency of condom use among FSWs in Tehran, Iran. Methods Using mixed sampling methods, we recruited 170 FSWs in Tehran in 2017. We measured self-reported social support by face-to-face interviews using a standardized questionnaire. Linear regression was used to assess the association between socio-demographic characteristics (age, education level, marital status, and place of living), transactional sex characteristics (age at first transactional sex and frequency of transactional sex in the last month), HIV knowledge, social support network characteristics (social network size, duration of tie, intimacy, social support), and condom use behavior. Results Of the total of 1193 persons in FSW’s social networks, 615 (51%) were sexual partners, 529 (44%) were peer sex workers, and 36 (5%) were family members. The participants perceived moderate social support from sexual partners, low from peer sex workers, and very low from family members. Adjusted for individual and other network characteristics, peer sex worker social support ( b = 0.28, 95%CI 0.06, 0.50), and family support ( b = 1.12, 95%CI 0.028, 2.23) were significantly associated with condom use. Conclusion Family and peer sex worker social support are associated with condom use, but less strongly than HIV knowledge or place of living. However, very few FSWs are socially connected with families. Interventions to promote condom use among this vulnerable population should also consider social and familial support.

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