- 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