Times of India
10 May 2010
Rehana (name changed) was a sex worker for 25 long years. Later, she contracted HIV. Her initial reaction to the diagnosis was utter shock and much to her expectation, her life became a living hell. Deserted by all, she was leading a life of solitude and loneliness.
There were many women like her in Bharatpur district who were facing similar experiences. Having contracted HIV after working as sex workers, they had no one to share their problems with and were totally down with stress and depression till they came across an intervention programme being run there by the Rajasthan State AIDS Control Society (RSACS) and voluntary organisation Lupin Human Welfare & Research Foundation.
Under this programme, a mass awareness programme was undertaken for HIV prevention and on the risk factors associated with HIV infection among the sex workers in the Bharatpur district. They were identified as a key factor for the spread of HIV. Then a strategic approach for confronting the crisis through safe sex by promotion of Condom was initiated on a large–scale.
Outlets were created in 11 hot spot areas where Condom were freely available for the clients visiting them. In the past one year, 302 sex workers of Bedia community were registered for target intervention. The foundation ensured that the stigma and rejection of such women is stopped by education and creating an awareness, advocacy and sensitisation.
Drop–in centres were established for a one–to–one meeting of all such sex workers to discuss their problems and share information of mutual interest. Women were encouraged to form self–help groups to facilitate them to join the mainstream of development activities and to spread awareness amongst their community on HIV prevention.
Provision for clean drinking water, hut insurance coverage, training for income generation activities like manufacturing of ‘Tulsi malas’ etc were also conducted for their benefit.
Various health camps were organised at the hot spots to encourage HIV testing at voluntary counselling and testing centres in government hospitals. It was ensured that women suffering from sexually–transmitted infections are treated at private clinics, where the doctors and staff have been specially trained for handling them. The medicine at these clinics were distributed free of cost.
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