69% Of Carletonville, South
Africa Sex Workers

From Jan Lamprecht

Health education programmes and free condom distribution have not stopped South African commercial sex workers from having unprotected sex, a study has found.
A study conducted by the London School of Economics found that 69% of local commercial sex workers (CSWs) in the South African gold mining community of Carletonville are HIV positive. The study investigated whether sex workers' working and living conditions undermined their ability to insist on condom use.
Interviews with sex workers revealed that sex workers were aware of the dangers of HIV/Aids and would prefer to use condoms but clients almost always refused. Poverty and the fear of violence forced them to accept their clients' demands, the study said. Most of the women felt it would be difficult to present a united front against men demanding unprotected sex as there was "fierce competition" for clients, the study added.
According to the study, for many women, early life experiences had reduced their confidence in their ability to take control of their lives, making them less willing to insist on using condoms.
Despite the many obstacles to condom use among sex workers, the study found that, even in poor conditions, women had resources that could be used by HIV/AIDS prevention programmes in order to enhance their self-confidence in condom negotiation.
The women had support groups and networks among themselves and received support from other shack dwellers in the community. Community-based sexual health promotion programmes were better able to reach these women through these networks, the study suggested. - Plusnews

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