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Am J Public Health. 2009 May;99(5):811-9. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2007.118422. Epub 2009 Mar 19.

"... But then he became my sipa": the implications of relationship fluidity for condom use among women sex workers in Antananarivo, Madagascar.

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  • 1Institute for Population Health, University of Ottawa, 1 Stewart St, Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5 Canada. kstoeben@uottawa.ca


Increasing evidence indicates that sex workers use condoms less consistently with regular (i.e., nonpaying) partners than with clients. Few studies have examined the extent to which these 2 categories are mutually exclusive. In an ethnographic study of women's sex work in Antananarivo, Madagascar, we examined how the meaning of women sex workers' sexual relationships could shift among 3 different forms of sex work. Condom use was less likely in forms in which the distinction between client and lover (sipa in Malagasy) was fluid. For many sex workers, therefore, relationships they understood to be intimate imparted the greatest health vulnerability. It is important to examine the influence of the meaning of sexual relationships on condom use for HIV prevention. Policy implications for HIV prevention work with sex workers are considered.

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