HIV positive sex workers operating from settlements : Working class warned

SEX workers who are HIV positive have moved into settlements and areas outside the urban centres, a prevention officer has warned.
Rodney Bafeo Junior, Anglicare’s HIV/AIDS prevention officer and Ward 14 development committee member, said this in Lae yesterday after concluding a week-long awareness programme in the settlements in Ahi local level government.
“From our findings, most of the sex workers who have HIV/AIDS are living in settlements and blocks in Lae,” he said.
“They only go out into town to see clients from Thursday to Saturday,” he said.
“For the safety of the working class people, we have to bring awareness into the settlements because many working class people are contracting HIV/AIDS in their own residential areas.”
Bafeo is a long-time advocate against HIV/AIDS in Lae. His father Rodney Mukinere is HIV-positive.
He said the community must be warned about the risks of contracting the HIV virus just like those in the city.
“Some of the people living in settlements are employed by companies which have their own workplace HIV policies,” he said.
“But back in their own communities, they do not have a community-based policy.
“The smart and pretty sex workers are living in settlements just like the working class person.
“HIV has now gone rural so we have to target the grassroots and the rural areas.”
He said Ward 14 and others in the Ahi LLG had not seen any awareness programmes in the past 10 years.
“From our assessment, three out of 20 people who get tested for HIV are positive. But lately some 15 people are tested positive out of 20 tested which is not good. So we are going door to door to do awareness,” he said.

ONE PNG / The National
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