Friday, March 14, 2003

Sachchidanand Jha

Sex workers to get condoms in vanity bags

PATNA — The Bihar State AIDS Control Society (BSACS) has devised a novel strategy to influence commercial sex workers (CSWs) to use condoms. Instead of openly distributing condoms among them, it has decided to present them with vanity bags containing cosmetics as well as condoms.

The move is aimed at preventing spread of HIV and AIDS through unprotected sex with multiple partners. The CSWs have shown reluctance to use condoms.

The BSACS, in collaboration with Harijan Adivasi Shikshan Prashikshan Kalyan Sansthan and SBI, will distribute vanity bags containing cosmetics and condoms to some 100 CSWs of Gulabbagh area of Purnia town on March 15.

The SBI has supplied the vanity bags containing cosmetics while the BSACS has supplied about 2,000 condoms to the Sansthan. The cosmetics include lipsticks, nail polish, bindis and powder, according to a senior BSACS official. This might influence the CSWs to use condoms, the official said.

The official, while maintaining that the state government was committed to create AIDS awareness among people, said that the BSACS had chalked out plans to reach all the established redlight areas in the state. The official said that similar programmes would be organised at Chaturbhujsthan in Muzaffarpur, Shravan Bazar in Munger and other redlight areas.

The BSACS had distributed condoms among over 1,500 CSWs of Chaturbhujsthan during the fortnight long family health awareness campaign last year through an NGO.

Apart from distributing the vanity bags among the CSWs of Gulabbagh, four officials of BSACS and Sansthan members will tell the CSWs as to how the use of condoms by their clients could protect them from HIV and AIDS.

He said that in Maharashtra, the incidence of HIV among CSWs had reached 60 per cent. The official, however, made it clear that the CSWs would not be asked to undergo HIV test.

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Created: May 2, 2003
Last modified: May 2, 2003
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