International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF)
Friday, January 10, 2003

Senegal's bold HIV/AIDS programme is working

Prostitution was legalized in Senegal in 1969, and now sex workers (who have to be over 21 years of age to register) pay regular visits to a centre run by the Ministry of Health for checkups, education and medical treatment.

This policy is credited with being one of the main reasons why Senegal has a much lower rate of HIV infection — about 2 percent — than many other Southern African countries.

Senegal is desperately trying to stop infections from spreading among people who could serve as central 'hubs' by regularly checking sex workers for AIDS and other STDs. If they are HIV-positive, they have the option of government-funded treatment. If a prostitute is discovered to have an STD, she will lose her little green license card until she's finished treatment, largely because infection with one STD dramatically increases one's risk of contracting HIV.

This programme is similar to one in Nevada,United States where sex workers are tested and screened for AIDS and other STDs before they are licensed to work. But where Nevada bans HIV-positive sex workers from working, Senegal allows most of them to go back on the streets after undergoing additional AIDS education. Banning HIV-positive sex workers, the government's reasoning goes, would both stop these women from coming in for checkups and increase illegal, unregulated sex work.

Fewer than 15 percent of women who come to the centre now test positive for HIV. Educating even a few sex workers about AIDS has helped to spread information throughout the profession.

Source: Boston Globe via CDC Prevention-News Digest, Vol 1 no 319
Source Date: 9 January 2003

[World 2003] [News by region] [News by topic]

Created: January 22, 2003
Last modified: January 22, 2003
CSIS Commercial Sex Information Service
Box 3075, Vancouver, BC V6B 3X6
Tel: +1 (604) 488-0710