The Jakarta Post reports that two clinics are now in operation in Bali dedicated to serving gay men, drug users and commercial sex workers as part of efforts to curb the number of HIV/AIDS cases on the island.
A clinic located on Jalan Kalianget No. 3 in Kuta is focused on serving the gay community with general healthcare, laboratory testing and HIV counseling. Funded by individual and institutional donations, the clinic is supervised by Dr. DN Wirawan.
Another clinic, the Kerthi Praja Health Center located in Sesetan, South Denpasar seeks to serve transvestites and sex workers from the Sanur, Nusa Dua and Benoa Harbor areas.
Dr. Wirawan said that one high-risk group that remains outside the reach of community health care initiatives are the customers of commercial sex workers who are seen as a major source of new HIV infections. Less than 30% of the estimated 80,000 customers of commercial sex workers in Bali have been touched by free condoms programs and basic health education.
Efforts, however, to educate sex-workers have been more successful. An estimated 90% of Bali’s sex workers have received counseling and education on safe sex practices. Some 6,000 sex workers have also received medical treatment from ongoing community health projects.
Surprisingly, HIV/AIDS activists blame frequent raids by police and local officials on prostitution centers as having had a negative effect of reducing the effectiveness of public health education and outreach programs by driving sex workers underground.
Bali has five medical centers dedicated to serving intravenous drug users. These centers provide addiction therapy, HIV counseling, Methadone therapy and HIV testing. Officials claim the easier access to healthcare for intravenous drug users has managed to dramatically reduce the number of new HIV infections linkes to drug use. But, while cases of HIV among homosexuals and drug users in Bali are on the decline, cases among heterosexuals have increased 74%.
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