HIV/AIDS Cases Increasing Among Sex Workers in Bali, Commission Launches STI Program
Officials in Bali recently reported an increase in HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections among commercial sex workers and their clients, the Jakarta Post reports. Data from the Bali AIDS Commission -- or KPAD -- show that the prevalence of STIs among sex workers increased to 14% in 2008, compared with 3% in 2003. Yahya Anshori, a program official at Bali KPAD, said that the group expects the prevalence to increase again in 2009. Yahya said the rise in STI cases among sex workers can be attributed to an increase in risky behaviors. The Post reports that there are an estimated 8,000 sex workers in Bali.
Yahya's comments were made on Wednesday during a training session for public health centers and private clinics treating STIs. The Post reports that Yahya said access to STI treatment in Bali is highly inadequate, with many hospitals and private doctors unable to provide STI treatment. Yahya said that Bali KPAD "hope[s] doctors can extend the access of the treatment" through the training program. He said, "The earlier we treat those infected, the better we can defend ourselves from HIV." Made Jatiluhur, head of the Tejakula public health clinic in the Buleleng regency, said the training is necessary because even though there is a high prevalence of HIV and other STIs in the region, "there is no clinic specifically for such patients." Jatiluhur said, "We have been treating sexually transmitted [infection] patients with very minimal resources." Bali Vice Governor Anak Agung Ngurah Puspayoga said he hopes the training program will reduce the STI prevalence in Bali. Made Efo Suarmiartha -- director of Citra Usadha Indonesia Foundation, a nongovernmental organization that focuses on HIV/AIDS -- said she hopes the training program will raise HIV/AIDS awareness and further prevention efforts among the public. The training "aims to increase knowledge and improve doctors' ability to provide treatment for the patients," she said (Erviani, Jakarta Post, 3/5).