AIDS conference highlights risks facing sex workers

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AIDS conference highlights risks facing sex workers

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As the world’s largest AIDS conference continues in Washington, attention has turned to the increased risks facing workers in the global sex industry.

For them, as for the general population, condoms are key to protection and all sizes and colours were on display to help get the message across.

“We always like to remind people that, according to UNAIDS, over 80 percent of all new HIV infections occur through unprotected sexual activity,” said Joy L. Alegarbes of The Condom Project.

The International AIDS Society’s annual event heard particular concern voiced for some of the critically affected, yet often isolated populations, affected by HIV and AIDS.

“Men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers, injection drug users, in many places are falling behind and have to suffer and deal with discrimination and terrible inequities,” Gottfried Hirnschall, Director of the AIDS Department at the World Health Organisation, told euronews.

“This is an epidemic that governments have not been willing to address. This is an epidemic that religious groups have not been willing to address. And only now, we see breakthroughs,” said Paul De Lay, Deputy Executive Director of UNAIDS.

New figures show the number of AIDS-related deaths has fallen worldwide but about 34 million people on earth are living with HIV.

“Speakers at this AIDS conference in Washington sounded far different than the gloomy experts at the first gathering in San Francisco in 1990,” said our correspondent at the gathering, Stefan Grobe.

“Much progress has been made ever since. But the battle is not over. HIV is infecting 2.5 million more each year.”