lets face it, sex workers, prisoners and drug users are scary

August 6, 2008 at 5:34 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Blogging live from the International AIDS Conference

art is from Mary Buttons blog -action to access.

What is standing out for me at the conference is the need to focus on investment and programs for and research of the most at-risk groups–, men who have sex with men (MSM), drug users, sex workers and prisoners.

Let’s be frank, this is no “save the children” kind of cause – generally people are afraid of these groups and don’t know much about them. I’ve had a lot of global experiences in my life, but I have never spoken directly with a sex worker or prisoner (to my knowledge). With so many sex workers here, I can surely change this soon.

Simple prejudices and impressions aside – the numbers tell a shocking story. Of global AIDS expenditures, only 1.2 percent is spent on specific responses to men who have sex with men. This totals $3 million out of the estimated $30 million needed according to UNAIDS.

“Less than 10% of high risk populations are receiving appropriate prevention.” Alex Coutinho, Executive Director, Infectious Disease Institute Uganda. In Uganda, a prisoner is more likely to die of AIDS than any other cause.

Outside of Africa – drug users, sex workers and men who have sex with men make up the vast majority of those contracting HIV. It’s amazing after 25 years and billions of dollars we are not able to better address these populations. There is research and success stories that document what works in these populations, especially in Mexico and Brazil.

Youth are key to this struggle actually – we need a generation of young people that can fearlessly empower and protect the human rights of sex workers, prisoners and drug users.

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