HIV+ Pros’ clients
Seven female sex workers who recently tested
positive for the HIV virus are yet plying their
trade in the Colombo suburbs, with authorities yet
to trace any of their clients who may have
contracted the deadly virus from them.
Health Ministry sources revealed that there could be
many more sex workers who have contracted the
disease, as these seven detections were made by just
one NGO working with the National Sexually
Transmitted Diseases (NSTD) & HIV/AIDS Prevention
When The Nation contacted the NSTD & HIV/AIDS
Prevention Programme, they said that, already
attempts were being made to identify the individuals
who had unprotected intercourse with these women.
A recent survey by NGOs working in this field and
the NSTD & HIV/AIDS Prevention Programme revealed
that there were more than 40,000 sex workers
operating in the country. According to the National
Programme, there could be many more sex workers who
are HIV+, but are not under their radar. They
believe that there could be more than a hundred such
individuals, since the seven who tested positive had
come under the radar of only a single NGO.
“Most of these surveys are conducted by reputed
NGOs, since sex workers fear to keep any sort of
contact with any government organisation” a
spokesman at the NSTD & HIV/AIDS Prevention
When contacted, a spokesman for the NGO that tested
these women said they are constantly monitoring
these women who are being given a regular supply of
condoms by their organisation.
He said that sex workers usually fear government
organizations even if they are trying to help them.
“Most of these women fear government organisations,
since they believe that government institutions will
divulge information to the police, who are known to
regularly mistreat these women” the spokesperson
“We fear that, if too much information on these
women is leaked, then these sex workers will lose
their trust in us and might cut off all contacts.
Then combating the menace will become even harder.
If these women and others engaged in the same
profession were to stop coming for their treatment,
and to obtain their supply of condoms, then we will
be facing a dire situation” he added.
At the moment, there are 210 registered HIV patients
receiving treatment under the NSTD & HIV/AIDS
Prevention Programme in Sri Lanka. Since the first
case of AIDS was reported in 1987, nearly 316 people
have died of the disease.
According to the NSTD HIV/AIDS Prevention Programme,
12% of the country’s HIV patients have contracted
the disease through homosexual conduct, while 85%
have contracted it through intercourse with a
partner of the opposite sex, while 3% have inherited
it from their parents.