Posts Tagged ‘caught-between-the-tiger-and-the-crocodile’

At its 25th Board Meeting in Ghana, 20-22 November, the Global Fund Board decided to cancel Round 11, its funding opportunity for countries to put forward ambitious proposals for scale-up of HIV/AIDS, TB and/or malaria programs, National Strategies and health systems strengthening. The reason for this is lack of money and unwillingness by the donors to invest more in AIDS, TB and malaria through the Global Fund. The immediate consequence is that countries will only be able to apply for funding for continuation of essential prevention, treatment and/or care programs currently financed by the Global Fund that will otherwise face disruption between January 2012 and 31 March 2014. Funding for new programs and scale-up would only come available again as of 2014. This happens at a time when the Global Fund Board also approved a new Strategy 2012-2016 with ambitious targets – that could fundamentally change the course of the epidemics.


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From October 12-16, 2010 in Pattaya, Thailand, the Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW), UNAIDS, and UNFPA collaborated on a consultation on HIV/AIDS and sex work in Asia. The meeting brought together UN and Global Fund for HIV TB and Malaria representatives, non-governmental organisations, and government officials along with sex worker groups and projects from Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Thailand, Fiji, Papua, New Guinea, Cambodia, and China.

The meeting created space for NGO workers, and policy makers and sex workers to share information about human rights, health, and law.

Throughout the consultation particular issues arose. These are some of them

  • The proportion of funding for effective HIV programming with male female and transgender sex workers, is not adequate or proportionate to the role of commercial sex in HIV epidemics in Asia and the Pacific.
  • Interventions that are initiated and sustained by sex worker communities are crucial.
  • Lack of access to HIV medications and support for positive sex workers remains inadequate in many places.
  • Discrimination and abuse of HIV positive sex workers must be addresses.
  • The criminal law is a major barrier to good HIV programming, but so too are other laws and conventions that commit governments to eliminating trafficking and sexual exploitation.
  • The conflation of trafficking and sex work and the redefinition of sex work as sexual exploitation or entertainment is eroding countries capacity to provide effective HIV Services.
  • Violence is the most important issue overall and violence by police outweighs all other violence as a priority for sex workers throughout the region.
  • Mandatory and coerced HIV testing remains a problem throughout the region. It must be stopped.
  • Condom confiscation by police is a widespread problem.

Sex workers drafted a UN style declaration at the meeting called the Pattaya Draft Declaration that outlines what sex workers want. Like a UN document it will be circulated for discussion before it becomes a final declaration.

The consultation was remarkable for its ambitions. To ask police, sex workers, government and UN officials to discuss approaches to HIV in Asia and the Pacific is a big call. Some countries were more successful at this than others and there were many problems to remind us of the power differentials between us all. Some police and government were very hostile and there were various moments that illustrated the kinds of discrimination against sex workers that were being identified at the meeting as a significant barrier to HIV prevention and care. However overall the opportunity for bridge building with the UN and sex worker activists in the region was invaluable and APNSW is confident it will lead to better policy. We also hope sex workers’ chance to interact with the Global Fund will be the start of a process to make better use of that money by ensuring that more of it goes to sex workers at community level to run rights based effective programs.

The Pattaya Draft Declaration on Sex Work in Asia and the Pacific


IRIN News has a piece about the effect of criminalization and condoms being used as evidence of prostitution on the spread of HIV


AlertNet/Reuters has an article on the failure of national and UN agency programmes to effectively reach sex workers


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This is a monograph by Cheryl Overs about  events surrounding the introduction of the Suppression Exploitation and Human Trafficking in Cambodia in 2008. We welcome suggestions for corrections or modifications for the final draft, discussion about the law and relevant updates.

The APNSW March 2009.

Click here for PDF file:    caught-between-the-tiger-and-the-crocodile

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