Cambodian sex workers participated in a rollicking demonstration at Bangkok’s AIDS Conference on Tuesday, bringing global attention to their demands for long-term medical insurance for their participation in an HIV prophylactic drug trial set to start in Cambodia next month.
Some 30 sex workers barged on stage during a session on anti-viral drugs, shouting and carrying placards reading “Stop the Trial Now,” according to news reports. The sex workers called for the protection of participants in clinical trials of the drug tenofovir, which is used as an antiretroviral to treat HIV-positive patients but has not been tested on HIV-negative patients.
The trial organizers have promised medical care for the trial’s participants—960 female sex workers in Cambodia—during the study and for the following few years, but has not committed to long-term medical insurance.
The trial will be operated through the government’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and Sexually Transmitted Infections.
(Additional reporting by Kuch Naren)