There is some heartening news on the AIDS front. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS among Female Sex Workers (FSW) in the State has gradually decreased from 11 per cent to seven per cent now. Officials of the Andhra Pradesh States AIDS Control Society (APSACS) say measures at spreading awareness on safe contraceptive practices as a prevention strategy for the disease has finally paid off.
They point out that it is not just the prevalence of HIV: even the percentage of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) among FSWs is on the decline in the State. In the last five years, STI prevalence among FSWs has come down from a whopping 18 per cent to just two per cent, a reflection of the growing realisation among FSWs on the need to follow safe practices.
“The bottom-line, however, is that HIV/AIDS prevalence and STIs among FSWs has to be brought down to zero. This is very much possible, but requires concerted efforts by all over a period of time. But, definitely, we have made a lot of progress in spreading awareness on safe practices leading to the drop,” explained APSACS Joint Director (Targeted Intervention) T. Kailash Ditya.
The APSACS official was addressing a meeting organised by Integrated Rural Development Services (IRDS) and Mahila Abhivrudhi Sangam (MAS) here on Thursday. The meeting also discussed threadbare a host of issues related to the sexual and reproductive health needs of FSWs and released a study report on them.
According to existing data, there are 1, 44,245 FSWs in the State who are being targeted by APSACS to take up safe practices that would prevent HIV/AIDS.
“There is a definite need to focus more on spreading awareness on sexual reproductive health among FSWs in our State. This will help prevent ailments like cervical cancer in addition to HIV/ADS,” Mr. Kailash pointed out.