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The "Baluka" Study: Ethiopian Sex Workers and their Intimate Partnerships
Sex workers in Ethiopia report they use condoms with 99% of clients but only 65% with their steady partner or “balukas" (a common name for a sex worker’s husband or committed boyfriend). A number of statistical studies show clearly that sex workers reject recommendations to use condoms with their regular partners, in spite of high risk of HIV from frequent partner change and multiple concurrent relationships. The usual reason they give is that they “love and trust” their partners. But what does that mean? How is that decision reached? Are they truly safe? And if not, what can be done about it?
This in-depth research, carried out and analyzed in 2011 and 2012, aimed to find out exactly what is going on within these loving couples, what “love and trust” mean to them, how they decide not to use condoms, how safe they really are, and what could be done to make them safer.