:: to the teeth ::    thoughts on social justice, medicine, race, hope and beats

"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." :: Arundhati Roy ::

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." :: Alice Walker ::
Thursday, December 29, 2005  

Former sex worker leads HIV/AIDS project -- it just makes sense

"My chief goal is to ensure that not a single sex worker offers her service without condoms. We want to bring down the infection rate to zero." -- Bharati Dey.

Who is Ms Bharati Dey? She's a former prostitute who now at age 40 serves as director of the World Health Organization-funded HIV/AIDS project for several thousand sex workers in the red light district of Sonagachi, in Kolkata, India.

Sonagachi's HIV/AIDS control programme has brought infection rates down to around five percent from around 90 percent a decade ago, partly by encouraging prostitutes to refuse sex without condoms.

The Sonagachi programme's success saw the U.S.-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation use it as a model for a $200 million project in six other Indian cities...

"It's very difficult to ensure 100 percent condom use but we will strive to achieve that. We also aim to achieve empowerment of sex workers," Dey said, sitting in her one-room office in the middle of a row of brothels.

Kudos to Dey for rising up as a leader and taking on the grand task of empowerment. And double kudos to the World Health Organization for the audacity to appoint a former sex worker to oversee this agency.

Photo credits - Jayanta Shaw, Reuters. Story - "Former Kolkata prostitute vows to fight HIV/AIDS"

posted by Anjali Taneja | 12/29/2005 07:33:00 PM | |


Comments:

"One always hears about Aids and how it's this big problem. But I have personally never come across anyone with Aids or seen anyone dying of the disease, I think it's just hype"

- Sanjay Nirupam, Shiv Sena.

"Government initiatives have mostly concentrated on high-risk groups, like lorry drivers (who frequent prostitutes regularly) and sex workers, so public perception is that HIV is confined to these groups." (from the BBC)

The UN AIDS Report highlighted Dey's work in Cal but despite silver linings, it is an immense uphill struggle.

# posted by Blogger Rohin : 1/02/2006 9:05 AM  

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