HIV/AIDS: Commercial sex is often considered as the highest risk
-Mohammad Khairul Alam-
-Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation-
-24/3 M. C. Roy Lane-
The HIV/AIDS epidemic has developed into a major warning to human development— mainly in the poorest countries of the world. It spreads out depend on several social custom or norm prejudicial practice, such as gender discrimination, sexual violence, early marriage, trafficking, unsafe sex or exploitation of sex workers, transmission of other STDs, intravenous/injection drug uses. Socio-economic position and illiteracy also can makes vulnerable for HIV/AIDS. It is not only a public health issue but also one which is beginning to affect the dynamics of social, cultural, economic and developmental pace of the society we live in.
In the early days of the epidemic, men vastly outnumbered women among people infected with HIV. In 1997, women made up 41% of all people living with HIV. Today, nearly 50 percent of the global population of HIV infected persons are women. AIDS is now a leading cause of death among women aged 20-40 in Europe and North America. Worldwide, half of all new HIV infections are in young people aged 10 to 25, with teenager girls in some places as much as five times more at risk than teenager boys. The epidemic’s ‘feminization’ is most apparent in sub-Saharan Africa, where close to 60% of those infected are women, and 75% of young people infected are girls aged 15-24.
Being a girl or a boy, a woman or man, influences the nature of the risk for contracting HIV/AIDS and how a person experiences it. First, women are more physically susceptible to HIV/AIDS infection than men – male-to-female transmission during sex is about twice as likely to occur as female-to-male transmission. However, relatively simple precautions can be taken to reduce the likelihood of HIV transmission during sexual activity, so this physiologic disadvantage is not a sufficient explanation for the rising inconsistency in the way men and women are infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.
African women are 2.5 times more likely to become HIV-infected than their male counterparts. This vulnerability to the disease is heightened by the high-risk behavior of the men; due primarily to inadequate knowledge about HIV/AIDS, poor resource-base and insufficient access to HIV prevention services, inability to negotiate safer sex and a lack of female-controlled HIV prevention methods including microbicides. Among the women, this situation is most noticeable among women during their childbearing ages of 15-Up.
There are larger numbers of commercial female sex workers (CSWs) is operating all over the country, Bangladesh, significantly increases the risk of bridging the high risk groups and moving infection into the general population. Men, who frequently visit commercial sex areas and have sex with female sex workers and also with their wives, function as a bridging population and significantly aid the confluence of HIV/STDs into the general population. While, the majority of AIDS cases In Bangladesh are the results of needle sharing.
Commercial sex is often considered as the highest risk segment of the population whereby one could get HIV or STD due to the high-risk sex activity itself and the often-additional injurious high-risk behaviors practiced by sex workers e.g. IDU. CSWs are the principal transmitters of HIV in many countries.
In some countries, including Bangladesh, presence of prostitution and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is systematically denied, being considered a taboo by the majority of the society. There is no official record of the prevalence of residence base & floating sex workers in Bangladesh. Lack of any reliable records of the underground sex industry makes the data shaky. Sex workers in Bangladesh are suffering from unavailability of medical services and knowledge about STIs. Social stigmatization stops these resource-deprived women from seeking proper medical care.
In Bangladesh, commercial female sex workers (CSWs) are among the most vulnerable groups. Most of them CSWs are the age of teen. Their profession exposes them to tremendous risk and increases the likelihood of their partners/customers also being infected. The Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation survey focuses on the attitude, behavior and practice of commercial sex workers in Goalondo Brothel, this study did point out that almost 53% of sex workers enter the profession before the age of 20 years, and 30% enter between 20 to 25 years of age.
Bangladesh is still considered as a low HIV/AIDS prevalent country; but everyone buying sex in Bangladesh is having unprotected sex some of the time, and a large majority don’t use condoms regularly. The fourth national surveillance also found a high prevalence of syphilis among female sex workers. The same floating sex workers in central Bangladesh who had a 0.5 percent prevalence of HIV, for example, had a 42.7 percent prevalence of syphilis. Bangladesh mostly needs comprehensive approach to both sex worker’s rights and deal with HIV/AIDS crises. HIV/AIDS prevention programme, to be truly effective, must include parallel economic and educational initiatives for sex workers. If HIV continues to infect sex workers, it will have an all-round effect on our economic development and also on the overall income of the family. Because, sex workers in Bangladesh gets a high number of client in a week.
Source: Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation, UNAIDS, CARE, UNICEF