Brothel Study to Combat AIDS Fight

An NGO believes that its study of 1,302 establishments where it is possible for sex workers to do business will help steer efforts to fight the spread of HIV.

The aim of Population Services In­ternational’s six-week study, which documented establishments and rates of condom usage and availability, is to help anti-AIDS organizations spend their money more effectively.

PSI researcher Michael Chom­mie said at a press conference on Tuesday that the Ministry of Health and NGOs can more ef­fec­tively provide the sex workers with AIDS information and medicine.

The study was primarily a census of sex workers in the densest urban centers of Cambodia—Phnom Penh, Kandal and Kom­pong Cham provinces.

It also strove to find out where AIDS education has not reached.

In addition to 486 brothels, the study includes 734 karaoke clubs, massage parlors, hotels and res­taurants as places where it is possible for prostitutes to work.

More than 7,340 possible sex workers were counted, including 2,066 in brothels, 1,725 who worked as beer girls and 1,252 employed as nightclub dancers.

Activists say that prostitutes run the highest-risk of contracting HIV, the virus that can lead to AIDS. One chart in the re­port also reflects a decline of about one-third in the number of prostitutes in brothels following a November 1997 police crackdown on brothels.

At least 325 brothels in Phnom Penh continue to operate as of Sep­tember, according to the study, which reports that 195 brothels were unaffected by the crackdown.

Sex workers in 90 percent of the 325 brothels report that condoms are available and 83 percent of the sex workers reported using condoms regularly.

Condom availability as reported in Kompong Cham and Kan­dal brothels visited is higher while usage rates are lower, at 63 percent and 73 percent, respectively. Forty-nine percent of the brothels in both provinces reported being unaffected by last year’s crackdown.


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