Singapore AIDS Advocacy Group Distributes Free Condoms to Men Traveling to Indonesia To Find Commercial Sex Workers
Singapore AIDS advocacy group Action for AIDS on Monday announced that it has been distributing about 500 condoms at ports on weekends to men seeking to travel to the Indonesian islands of Batam or Bintan to find commercial sex workers, the AP/Jakarta Post reports (AP/Jakarta Post, 5/15). AFA Executive Director Paul Toh on Sunday at the group's annual AIDS memorial said AFA has been distributing the condoms for about a month. In addition, AFA volunteers have been providing HIV/AIDS education to the men, who are mostly middle-aged "blue-collar" workers, according to Singapore's Straits Times. A 2003 survey by an unnamed nongovernmental organization showed that about 600 Singaporean men travel to Batam to find commercial sex workers each Saturday, and the Indonesian government has asked Singapore to help reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS on the Riau islands (Tan, Straits Times, 5/16). "It's a growing trend among Singapore men to go to Batam or Bintan instead of going to Thailand for sex," Toh said, adding, "That's why we're doing this. We need to protect both sides. It's to ensure that men here do not get infected from the girls and also to protect the Indonesian girls." Toh added that half of the men who receive free condoms have said they do not need protection from HIV/AIDS, according to the AP/Post (AP/Jakarta Post, 5/15). AFA also plans to focus its efforts on reducing the spread of HIV among young people, Toh said, adding that people as young as 16 years old are contracting HIV through sexual intercourse with people they meet over the Internet, according to the Straits Times (Straits Times, 5/16).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.