Sex workers at risk of HIV
There are no jobs they are qualified for and they have families to support. They turn to prostitution as a last resort.
Some women have suffered abuse when they were young and prostitution is the way to find validation. These are some answers you likely get to the question of why women turn to sex trade.
Although some people are of the opinion that some women enter the sex trade by choice, prostitution researchers like Melisa Farley are adamant that prostitution is not a choice, as some claim.
However, survivors of prostitution have been quoted describing prostitution as “the choice made by those who have no choice.”
Researchers claim that global forces that “choose” women for prostitution include, among others, gender and racial discrimination, poverty, abandonment, debilitating sexual and verbal abuse, poor or no education, and a job that does not pay a living wage.
Most of people think women become sex workers because they are immoral or too lazy to find other work.
But the fact of the matter is that many of them do so because they desperately in need money to support themselves – for food and shelter, to support their children and families.
More often, these women suffer physical violence, which is a commonplace in prostitution. Women who ply their trade as sex workers are also at higher risk of sexually transmitted diseases.
And the emergence of HIV/AIDS has endangered the lives of thousands of sex workers.
After three decades since HIV/AIDS was declared a global epidemic, there is still little knowledge about prevalence of HIV among sex workers.
According to The Lancet Infectious Diseases ‑ a study posted on online The Lancet journal ‑ the risk of contracting HIV is 14 times higher for female sex workers in low and middle-income countries than for women in the general population.
The authors of the study analysed 102 previous studies representing almost 100 000 female sex workers in 50 developing countries. And evidence indicates that where sex workers are able to negotiate safer sex, HIV risk and vulnerability can be sharply reduced.
According to global data reported between 2007 and 2011, HIV infection among sex workers was highest in sub-Saharan Africa where 36.9 percent of female sex workers were HIV-positive. sub-Saharan Africa was followed by Eastern Europe (10.9 percent), and around half that number in Latin America and the Caribbean (6.1 percent) and Asia (5.2 percent). The lowest rate, 1.7 percent, was reported in the Middle East and North Africa.
Sex workers often find it difficult to access STIs prevention and treatment services, even though many countries have effective programmes in place.
Many sex workers fear the stigma, discrimination and, in some cases, violence they may encounter, according to this publication.
The Lancet Infectious Diseases study points out that some national AIDS programmes specifically support implementation of HIV prevention programmes for sex workers, but many do not.
The Lancet study recommends that countries work towards decriminalisation of sex work and urge countries to improve sex workers’ access to health services.
It further outlines interventions to empower sex workers and emphasises that correct and consistent condom use can reduce transmission between female, male and transgender sex workers and their clients.
The authors call for voluntary periodic screening and treatment of STIs for sex workers to both improve their health and control the spread of HIV and STIs.
“There are some excellent examples of community-run HIV prevention schemes among sex workers. More national programmes need to support this kind of approach,” the Lancet report reads.