HIV & AIDS AND SEX WORKERS

A Research Conducted by GWIHR on Sex Workers Level of Education in Rivers State Nigeria.

Abstract Written by: MISS ASEME JOSEPHINE

ACHIEVING A REDUCTION IN HIV PREVALENCE AMONG SEX WORKERS THROUGH LITERACY PROGRAM TO ACTUALIZE 90 90 90 GLOBAL GOAL BY THE YEAR 2030

Background

Sex work is a profession embraced and practiced by women and girls from different social and academic strata of the society.

A critical observation of the lack of academic knowledge which have hampered the level of understanding of sex workers most especially the brothel based which have a very large population of illiterate and semi-literate women and girls. The 2014 Integrated Biological And Behavioral Surveillance survey (IBBSS) under Federal Ministry Of Health Nigeria state that 6.3% of Brothel Based FSW’s never attended school, 20.5 attended Primary Education, 67.0 secondary school then 6.2 tertiary Education.

It is widely acknowledged that education empowers, provides choice and gives a voice to an individual. Education provides a foundation to self development for individuals who are disadvantaged by creating choices and as well build their self confidence and self reliance. Individuals who have acquired formal education are at a vantage position to be able to read and understand information materials on Human Rights and HIV prevention methods which translates to lower risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

In retrospect, the dire consequences of illiteracy among sex workers have spurred GWIHR to conceptualize and embark on a literacy campaign as a targeted intervention to bequeath some level of education to FSW’s for effective HIV prevention programming.

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Method

A cross sectional survey on purposely selected 400 sex workers aged 16 – 30 was conducted in 7 L.G.A in Rivers state namely phalga, obioakpo,etche ,Ahoda,Oyibo,Eleme and Onne to measure their level of literacy. Data was collected using questionnaire administration techniques. Mean number of years for which they had been in sex work was 2 years.

Result

The level of literacy after analyzing the responses to the administered questionnaire revealed that out of 400 sex workers that responded, 74 sex workers does not have any educational background , 192 sex workers between the age 16-25 stopped at primary 5/6 , 117 are secondary school dropout , 10 FSW’s are university drop out and 7 sex workers complete graduate .

Conclusion

Sex workers having an educational background will go a long way in reducing the rate of violations of their human rights, sexual risk among them and their client; it will also increase and improve their knowledge on negotiation skills, proper use of condom, HIV modes of transmission and prevention. It will also place them on a pedestal to assimilate and absorb capacity building/strengthening training and others that will help sex workers become agent of their own change.

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