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Prevention Techniques Online For Sex Workers

In Fight Against Aids, UN Brings Prevention Techniques Online For Sex Workers

Sex workers around the world can now help protect themselves and their clients from HIV/AIDS with the first-ever online tool kit aimed at bringing valuable expertise and preventive practices to the underground industry, which suffers a general lack of access to these services, the United Nations health agency announced today.

"Thanks to this innovative project, people working on HIV/AIDS prevention for sex workers can now learn what does and doesn't work from Poland to Papua New Guinea,” said Jim Yong Kim, World Health Organization WHO) Director of HIV/AIDS.

“Targeted HIV/AIDS prevention and care programmes are urgently needed for sex workers, injecting drug users and other vulnerable groups,” he added of the initiative, which also targets other sexually transmitted infections.

Launched by WHO and the German Technical Cooperation GTZ) in collaboration with sex work networks around the world, the tool kit is intended for use by people working with female, male and transgender sex workers including programme managers, field workers and peer educators.

This is the first time this expertise has been formally documented and made widely accessible. Now online, it will also be available as CD-ROM and hard copy in early 2005. The kit is a living document and will continue to be updated as new resources are released.

WHO and GTZ worked closely with sex work networks and organizations to produce the collection of more than 130 documents, manuals and research studies, such as practical "how to do it" documents like 'Hustling for Health' and 'Making Sex Work Safe,’ written by experienced sex worker groups to support programme managers.

"Of Veshyas, vamps, whores and women," for example, is based on experiences from an Indian non-governmental organization and gives practical advice on how to build up a network of peer educators in brothels, how to set up condom distribution networks and how to structure payment incentives for educators.

Despite proof that prevention programmes succeed in sex work settings, currently only 16 per cent of sex workers have access to these services. Around the world, poor services generally mean higher HIV prevalence.

The kit includes valuable data and analysis which can be shared across regions to design better prevention programmes, such as "Police and Sex Workers in Papua New Guinea". A report on "Meeting the sexual health needs of men who have sex with men in Senegal" gives valuable insight into dealing with the cultural sensitivity surrounding these relationships in West Africa.

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