‘FRONTLINE/World’ Episode Examines HIV/AIDS Among Sex Workers in India
PBS stations nationwide on Thursday are scheduled to air a segment on "FRONTLINE/World" -- a coproduction of WGBH Boston and KQED -- examining the thousands of HIV-positive sex workers in India and efforts to prevent the disease from spreading further. The segment, titled "The Sex Workers," compares efforts to fight the epidemic in the cities of Mumbai -- where more than 60% of the city's sex workers are HIV-positive and "mafia-controlled" brothels prevent them from using condoms -- and Kolkata -- where a community outreach project has reduced the HIV prevalence among sex workers to about 10%. According to "FRONTLINE/World," Kolkata officials more than 10 years ago launched the "Sonagachi Project" -- named after the city's red-light district -- which mobilized politicians, social workers and public health officials to provide sex workers with condoms, information about safe sex and medical services. In addition, Kolkata sex workers formed a union to ensure condom use, which has helped to lower their HIV incidence "dramatically," compared with sex workers in other Indian cities. "Remi," the president of India's largest female-run sex workers' union who is interviewed in the segment, called HIV/AIDS the women's "biggest challenge" and noted that younger sex workers -- who are more difficult to reach with HIV prevention messages -- are the "hardest hit" and "continue to fuel this epidemic." Even when outreach workers are able to connect with younger sex workers, it can be "difficult to communicate the deadly threat" of HIV/AIDS to women struggling to survive, "FRONTLINE/World" reports ("FRONTLINE/World" release, 6/11). Check local PBS listings for show times. The complete segment will be available online in RealPlayer a few days after the broadcast.
Raney Aaronson, producer of "The Sex Workers," is scheduled to participate in a washingtonpost.com chat about the program on Friday at 11 a.m. ET. The complete transcript of the chat will be available online.