News / Africa

    Sex Workers Seek HIV Prevention

    The Lancet has published a new series warning an AIDS-free generation is impossible unless the disease is tackled among sex workers.
    The Lancet has published a new series warning an AIDS-free generation is impossible unless the disease is tackled among sex workers.

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Joe DeCapua

    A new series in the medical journal The Lancet says achieving an AIDS-free generation will not be possible unless the human rights of sex workers are recognized. Researchers say sex workers face violence and discrimination and are not able to access the care, treatment and prevention measures they need.

    Listen to De Capua report on HIV and sex workers
    Listen to De Capua report on HIV and sex workersi
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X

    The Lancet articles say people who sell sex – whether in high or low income countries -- “face a disproportionate risk and burden of HIV.” These include women, men and transgenders. Much of the problem, the authors said, has to do with “repressive and discriminatory law, policy and practice.”

    The series was presented at the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia.

    Linda-Gail Bekker is one of the authors. She’s a professor of medicine and deputy director of the Desmond Tutu HIV Center at the University of Cape Town.

    She said, “Sex is something that all of us need to do as human beings. We’re designed this way. This is what we’re about. And if this is the way HIV is transmitted then we need to just kind of face that -- and address that in such a way that people can continue to live their lives in ways that are sustainable, but we can protect them at the same time.”

    She said those in the profession prefer the term sex worker rather than prostitute.

    “The community is wanting to think of themselves as doing regular work. And I think that’s in an effort to be recognized as individuals, who have dignity and are making a living. And work towards decriminalization of the profession.”

    Professor Bekker said that sex workers are a marginalized community.

    “There is huge stigma and discrimination that goes with that. And as a result people find themselves on the fringe of communities – on the fringe of humanity.”

    Their activities are driven underground. She said they often do not have access to condoms, lubricants, HIV testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.

    “As a result,” she said, “they become incredibly at risk for HIV acquisition. This virus is a non-discriminator of human beings and it preys upon vulnerable individuals.”

    Much of the violence sex workers face comes from police.  The very people, Bekker said, who are supposed to protect. She says sex workers often face stigma and discrimination when they go to health clinics.

    “What I say as a public health individual is that I’m not here to decide on what people should or shouldn’t be doing. What I need to do is use the tools at my disposal to make sure that individuals are protected from viruses, particularly when I’ve got the tools to enable that,” she said.

    Those tools now include PrEP, pre-exposure prophylaxis, whereby antiretroviral drugs are taken to prevent initial HIV infection. Also, new microbicides, or vaginal gels, are being developed that contain HIV blocking drugs.

    Bekker said that the old ABC approach is no longer good enough.

    “I don’t know what planet we were on when we thought this was going to be as simple as telling people to abstain. You know, hello. Be faithful or simply condomize. Now, condoms are great. But it’s clear that that’s a hard thing for people to do year in and year out.”

    She said a successful HIV prevention and treatment program must include community mobilization that has input from sexworkers. Such programs have been effective in Thailand and India. Professor Bekker said they should include peer education and voluntary counseling and testing.

    The Lancet series calls prevention programs for sex workers an “urgent international priority…backed-up by appropriate levels of funding from international and national health programs.” 

    You May Like

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese Americans for Trump Going Against National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese Americans for Trump Going Against National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora