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The Morning After and Forever After

25% of Baliís Commercial Sex Workers HIV Positive

(3/5/2012) The estimated number of HIV/AIDS cases in Bali through the end of January 2012 hit 5,902 cases, with the majority of infections occurring as the result of heterosexual sexual contact. Authorities cite infection via contact with commercial sex workers as a major vector for acquiring the disease, with secondary infections affecting wives and children of men who have sex with prostitutes.

The secretary of the Bali chapter of the Commission for the Prevention of AIDS (KPA), Made Suprapta, declared on Monday, February 27, 2012, that the island has entered dangerous territory as regards the rate of HIV/AIDS infections. This can be seen from estimates that among 9,000 commercial sex workers in Bali approximately 22-25% are thought to be HIV positive. “So from 100 commercial sex workers surveyed, 22 will be positive for HIV. This condition is of great concern and should be a red light for the clients of sex workers,” explained Suprapta.

Nationally based research shows that, on the average, a commercial sex worker will serve 3 – 4 clients each day. Additional research suggests that commercial sex workers in Bali, Papua and East Java can serve as many as from 1 to 12 customers in a single working day.

Suprapta continued, telling The Bali Post, that the actual number of commercial sex workers in Bali remains highly fluctuant. Because prostitution in Bali is not localized to specific locations, making estimating the actual size of the sex industry sector problematic.

He went on to say that one method proven effective in reducing the rate of new HIV/AIDS infections is the use of condoms. Despite this fact, authorities estimate that condoms are only utilized in 30% of commercial sex contacts, while a usage rate of 80-90% is thought to be necessary to reduce the rate of new infections.

The KPA works with local community organizations to promote the use of condoms and encourage commercial sex workers infected with HIV/AIDS to undergo treatment and counseling.

According to Suprapta, many prostitutes refuse to be tested for HIV/AIDS for fear of subsequent arrested by police authorities.

KPA also works with area schools, creating student groups joining the battle to prevent HIV/AIDS infections in the community. Efforts are also underway to increase HIV/AIDS awareness in villages by forming village-based action groups to educate their neighbors as a means of reducing the rate of new infections.