NEW VISION (Kampala)
Monday, October 28, 2002

Charles Wendo

HIV/AIDS NGOs want sex work legalized

AIDS service organisations want commercial sex work legalised in order to reduce the rate of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

"STDs will remain rampant among commercial sex workers and continue trickling into society as long as the sex workers operate underground for fear of being arrested," the organisations warned on Friday.

They included more than a dozen NGOs, government departments, religious organisations, researchers and academicians brought together by the Ministry of Health.

They said efforts to end the sex trade were undermined by an army of lustful men who always seek the sex services, so the interim solution is to reduce the health risks.

Dr. Fred Kambugu, head of the STD clinic at Mulago Hospital, said scientific estimates show that treating one sex worker of an STD could save 10,000 people from contracting the disease.

But he said sex workers fear to receive treatment, rehabilitation and services aimed at reducing infections.

To press for their demands, the group formed a committee at the end of a two-day workshop at Hotel Africana in Kampala on Friday.

"What we intend to address is going to be tough. When we started the initial condom activities, some people nearly lost their jobs when the first condom adverts went on television," Kambugu said.

He said Kampala has between 2,500 and 5,000 sex workers, each serving an average of three clients a day, and each client has other partners.

"Continued delay in addressing commercial sex workers will mean the rates of new HIV infections will remain at the current levels or even increase," he said.

Rev. Prof. Peter Matovu, director of the Makerere University Guidance and Counselling Centre, said sex workers were children of God who needed help.

Copyright The New Vision.

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Created: November 14, 2002
Last modified: November 19, 2002
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