Group Launches New Program To Reduce Stigma Against HIV-Positive Sex Workers in India
The Indian not-for-profit organization Swathi Mahila Sangha has launched a new project to address stigma aimed at commercial sex workers living with HIV/AIDS, the Daily News and Analysis reports. The project -- called "Baduku," or Life -- is conducted in partnership with Vijaya Mahila Sangha and Jyothi Mahila Sangha, organizations that focus on empowering commercial sex workers. It has received a grant worth about $32,350 from the World Bank for 18 months of technical support. "Women sex workers who are affected by HIV positive face double stigma," Psushpalatha R., SMS project manager, said, adding, "They are even more discriminated and stigmatized, leading to poor access to HIV/AIDS-related medical and other services."
According to the Daily News and Analysis, the project includes a one-month campaign program involving three elements. The first is a Nov. 5 bike rally during which volunteers will visit police stations and hospitals to seek the support of officials in helping to reverse the stigma against people living with HIV/AIDS. This will be followed by a Nov. 14 event during which a human chain will be formed in a public area in an effort to dispel the myth that the virus can be transmitted through touching. The project also includes a signature campaign in which the public will sign pledges not to discriminate against people living with HIV/AIDS. In addition, SMS on Oct. 5 began an e-mail campaign focusing on HIV/AIDS awareness. "Thirty-five percent of people among those to whom we sent e-mails replied showing concern towards people with HIV," an SMS volunteer said, adding, "We require the support of the general public" (Rao, Daily News and Analysis, 11/4).