Nigerian Sex Workers Aware of AIDS, But Unaware of Viral Transmission Routes
The majority of Nigeria's 80,000 sex workers are aware of HIV/AIDS, but most do not know how it is transmitted and almost half do not take measures to protect themselves, according to a recent study by the Nigerian Society for Family Health, Agence France-Presse reports. About 60% of the 2,578 prostitutes surveyed were unaware that condoms could lower the risk of HIV transmission, and 35% thought that regular use of antibiotics could "ward off" the virus. Nigerian sex workers, who make about $130 a month -- three times the minimum wage -- see an average of four clients a day. Because higher prices are generally offered for sex without condoms, many do not take measures to protect themselves from HIV and other STDs. Of the prostitutes surveyed, 24% said they used condoms for "casual" customers, but not for "regulars" or "boyfriends," and 18% thought that they could tell if a client had HIV by looking at him before engaging in sex acts. Sex workers in northern Nigeria, where cultural and religious beliefs limit discussions about sex, knew even less about HIV transmission routes than sex workers in other parts of the country. In 1995, 35% of Nigerian sex workers were HIV-positive compared to 4.5% of the general population. Today the national HIV rate is 5.8% with an estimated 3.5 million people infected (Cunliffe-Jones, Agence France-Presse, 12/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.