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21/08/2012 - El Salvador

Female sex workers, consulted

Fellows from Orquídeas del Mar attended the presentation of the study: "Assessment of regional and national networks, organizations and groups in formation that works on projects and activities aimed at the prevention and/or care of HIV in PEMAR populations" because they were the consultation source for this investigation.

Haydeé Lainez, president of the organization member of RedTraSex and member of the network’s Board, was asked as referent of female sex workers to prepare the USAID/PASCA material.

Her assistance was a valuable contribution to explain the situation of organizations of female sex workers towards HIV. In fact, among the organizations interviewed, 8113 cases of attention to female sex workers were reported in the last year, of which the majority was attended by Orquídeas del Mar reaching to a 31% of the population.

The updated information provided by the study will be a key contribution when making decisions on measures of Strengthening of the National Response to the Epidemic to PEMAR populations (Most at Risk Populations).

Among the key findings, the study describes that "PEMAR populations remain the highest prevalence of HIV compared to the rest of the general population". In the case of female sex workers, prevalence is 5%, percentage held since 2008, according to the Ministry of Health.

The study explains that in prevention, the task of organizations like Orquídeas de Mar has been very important. Both individual and group tasks have succeeded in obtaining behavioral changes. For example regarding condom use, recent studies show a positive change in attitudes and practices: female sex workers in El Salvador have increased their use from 83% in 1997 (CAP PASMO study) to 90% in 2008 (ECVC study). However, these strategies have limitations (such as infrastructure, transportation, equipment, administration, coordination) which interfere with achieving a sustained reduction in HIV prevalence.

The analysis of the situation reveals a lack of coordination, which is necessary, with the national government. In this sense, and in line with what RedTraSex promotes, within the final recommendations of diagnosis highlights the need to strengthen networking (national and regional) of the organizations working in prevention, but above all more and better coordination with governments.

To establish formal links that include interventions of organizations to the National Response, "shared planning, training and definition of specific mechanisms for information would greatly strengthen the response capacity", says the statement.

The organizations consulted made clear the need for political advocacy and that governments support them in the undertaken initiatives to reduce stigma, discrimination and human rights violation, so that these "national strategies become protected by national legislation".

Taking into account the experience and voice of the protagonist, to coordinate joint activities and share information and resources are the steps that governments must take if they really aims at responding to HIV.

To read the full study, click here.