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Andhra Pradesh - Visakhapatnam Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Sex workers cling to `safety' to beat AIDS

Nivedita Ganguly



WE PROMISE: Commercial sex workers taking an oath to participate in the activities for the eradication of AIDS at a rally organised by Priyadarshini Service Organisation in Visakhapatnam on Thursday. — Photo: K.R. Deepak

VISAKHAPATNAM: Their lives revolve around the threat of death every time they fulfil the urge of their clients. Being sole breadwinners of their families, they have to live with the risk every moment. And among them there are some who continue to live with the conviction that AIDS is something that will never affect their lives.

Amidst such a gloomy scenario, there are a few who try to bring about a difference. P. Kusuma, a commercial sex worker (CSW), strives hard to eradicate this danger by passing the message of `safe sex' to her clients. She takes all precautions and gets a periodical check-up done once in three months.

V. Laxmi was tested HIV-positive two years soon after the death of her husband. Till now nobody knows of her illness. "I have accepted it as my fate, but I want to spread awareness among others who belong to the high-risk category," says she, being a member of Priyadarshini Service Organisation. She works as an extra in the dance group in films and as a helper in marriage parties.

Past `high-risk'

"We are at a stage when the epidemic is reaching beyond high-risk groups into the general population. Hence it has become imperative that before marriage, the parents of the boy and the girl take them to the nearest clinic and get them tested," suggests Additional Chief Medical Officer of Municipal Corporation Shyamala Devi.

While young girls and women are prepared and equipped to practise safe sex, women often face the lack of cooperation from men, and they stand at a higher risk of being infected with HIV/AIDS.

With the emergence of Anti Retroviral Treatment (ART), HIV and AIDS can be treated quite effectively, according to former member of the National AIDS Control Organisation Kutikuppala Surya Rao.

World-wide figures

During the last one-year an estimated 3,50,000 people were spared of a premature death. According to UNAIDS estimates, despite a decrease in the rate of infection in certain countries, the number of people living with HIV has continued to increase across the world, except the Caribbean.

The statistics reveal that there were an additional five million new infections this year.

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