Sex Trafficking and HIV
Sex Trafficking and Why HIV/AIDS Is So Common:
Most sex workers have multiple partners and inconsistent condom use, which better enables the spread of HIV.
In a report from 86 countries, less than ⅓ of sex workers used a condom with their last client.
Trafficked individuals often face violent sex and rape.
There is a greater possibility of cuts and tears, which allows for the exchange of blood.
Even if the Sex is Safe...
...injection drugs are common in the sex industry.
Drugs are used to cope with the stress and hardship of the job.
Oftentimes, sex work is used as a way to finance their addiction.
Many are forced by their pimp or other controller in order to calm/numb them for sex work.
Once They Have the Disease or Want to Get Tested…
Trafficked individuals are often forced to migrate to a different country, where they are undocumented and are often kept from receiving access to health services.
Trafficked women and sex workers tend to be stigmatized, marginalized, and criminalized, which affects their social and economic welfare and their access to health services.
Now You Know
UNAIDS recognizes any individual under the age of 15 to be considered a child… It is estimated that 3.2 million children were living with HIV/AIDS in 2013. 240,000 became newly infected. That’s 700 new infections every day!
How are children infected?
Mother-to-child transmission (MTCT): The HIV is passed on during pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding.
Sexual transmission: In 52 countries around the world, it is legal to marry a child under the age of 15 with parental consent, which puts children at a high risk of HIV infection.
Injection drugs: Children who use and abuse injection drugs are more likely to share needles, and often struggle to receive any medical care.
Why is the Treatment of Children with HIV/AIDS so Challenging?
Psychosocial Well-Being: Most children who live with HIV will lose family members to AIDS, experience shock, and be subject to stigma and discrimination from society. Support groups are not always available.
Childhood Illness: Because of their weakened immune system, children with HIV are even more susceptible to illnesses, such as mumps and chickenpox, and the sickness are harder to treat and last longer.
What Needs to Be Done?
There is medication that drastically shrinks the chances of a mother passing the virus onto their baby, but many mothers lack the education they need to ensure the health of their child...
Only 49% of women continue to take HIV medication while breastfeeding, whereas 62% of women only take the drug during pregnancy and delivery.
Breastfeeding accounts for half of all mother-to-child transmissions.
...and this can be easily prevented if women were educated on the proper use of the drug.
Children who are HIV+ are often discriminated against and lack the rights to education, contraception, gender equality, etc.
The failure of many governments worldwide to provide HIV testing and resources for children is the reason HIV is continuing to infect the next generation.
Globally, 11% of young girls are forced into marriage before they turn 15.
This leads to more likely viral transmission and uneducated mothers who pass on their disease to their children.
Antiretroviral treatment (ART): is not a cure for the disease, but it slows down the growth of the virus and effectively extends the lifespan of an infected patient.
THE DRUG EXISTS, BUT NOT EVERYONE IS GETTING IT.
Globally, of the pregnant women who received a test and were diagnosed positive for HIV, only 30% actually received the treatment they needed in order to ensure the safety of their child.
A baby who is HIV positive needs antiretroviral treatment immediately in order to stay alive. 76% of children who need this medication are not receiving it.
Now You Know
Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM)
Some men who have sex with men label themselves as gay, others as bisexual, while a large number -- particularly outside western countries -- simply see themselves as heterosexual males who just happen to have sex with men.
Men may have sex with men for a variety of reasons including: attraction to other men, pleasure or experimentation, societal or cultural norms, environmental reasons, or for financial reasons.
MSM and HIV/AIDS:
Historically, AIDS was first discovered among self-identified young gay men in the USA. Throughout the course of the global epidemic, consistently high levels of HIV infection have been found among men who have sex with men.
MSM represent only about 4% of the male population. In 2011 however, this demographic accounts for 54% of all the people living with the HIV infection.
In the context of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, sex between men is significant because it can involve anal sex -- the highest risk sexual behavior for contracting HIV.
In many countries, however, sex between men is stigmatized, which makes it nearly impossible to carry out relevant HIV prevention and awareness campaigns in some countries.
Challenges Responding to HIV Among MSM:
Criminalization: Many countries have laws banning same sex relations, many of which were first implemented during the colonial era and still remain today. In five of these countries, it is punishable by the death penalty. It is difficult to provide resources to MSM when such sexual relations are criminalized.
Discrimination from Authorities: Discrimination from authorities is sometimes apparent when men who have sex with men who are already living with HIV try to access testing or treatment facilities. This can make it very difficult to reach them with HIV prevention campaigns.
Lack of Research: There is a lack of awareness, knowledge, and impact of HIV in many regions around the world. More research on the impact of HIV on MSM -- particularly in developing countries -- will lead to a greater understanding of the situation and make it much easier to take appropriate action.
HIV Prevention That Works:
One of the most important prevention responses is to make high-quality condoms, along with water-based lubricants, available and accessible to men who have sex with men. If suitably strong condoms are not used, they may break, and if oil-based lubricants are used, they can damage condoms.
Many of the most successful programs aimed at men who have sex with men empower this group and actively involve them. These programs help to:
Fight prejudice and change public attitudes towards MSM.
Introduce “safe spaces” where MSM can meet, talk openly, and receive sexual health services.
The internet can be another effective means of reaching out to men who have sex with men, as increasing numbers of gay people are meeting online. Some websites used by men who have sex with men place health advisors in chatrooms, display animated characters to educate people about HIV, and encourage users to be open about their HIV-status.
The Way Forward:
Evidence and experience shows that providing HIV and AIDS services to those who are most at risk can be hugely beneficial to a whole country’s approach to HIV and AIDS. Governments and international donors must therefore cease to neglect the HIV epidemic among men who have sex men.
Now You Know
African Americans are the racial/ethnic group that is most affected by HIV.
The rate of new HIV infection in African Americans is 8 times that of whites based on population size.
Gay and bisexual men account for most new infections among African Americans; young gay and bisexual men aged 13 to 24 are the most affected of this group.
New HIV Infections:
Black/African Americans accounted for 46% of all new HIV infections in 2013, and make up 43% of the total number of people living with HIV in the USA, despite only making up 13% of the population.
Between 2009-2013, black/African Americans accounted for:
63% of all HIV infections among women
67% of all HIV infections among children below 13 years old
42% of all HIV infections among males.
Black/African American men and women are most likely to be infected through unprotected sex with a man, or by injecting drugs. Other factors such as heightened levels of poverty, lack of access to adequate healthcare, and stigma surrounding MSM also increase this group's risk of HIV infection.
Young black/African American MSM (aged 13 to 24) are most affected. In 2010, they were more than twice as likely to be infected with HIV as young MSM of any other ethnic group.
High HIV prevalence within this community, and the increased likelihood of black/African Americans to only have sexual relations with others in their community, heightens their risk of HIV.*
Challenges to Prevention:
HIV (prevalence): Because of the prevalence of HIV in African American communities and the fact that African Americans tend to have sex with partners of the same race/ethnicity, African Americans face a greater risk of HIV infection with each new sexual encounter.
Lack of Awareness: Almost 73,600 HIV-infected people in the African American population in 2011 were unaware of their HIV status.
Socioeconomic Issues: Limited access to high-quality health care, housing, and HIV prevention education directly and indirectly increase the risk for HIV infection, and affect the health of people living with and at risk for HIV.
Stigma: Stigma, fear, discrimination, homophobia, and negative perceptions about HIV testing can also place too many African Americans at higher risk. Many at risk for HIV fear discrimination and rejection more than infection and may choose not to seek testing.
HIV Treatment Among African Americans:
Only 46% of African Americans living with HIV are on antiretroviral treatment...
...Moreover, only 35% have achieved viral suppression, where HIV is reduced to a low level in the body.
Less than 30% of African Americans living with HIV on ART were adhering to it, compared to 40% of people of other races.
A Look to the Future...
Medication Availability: Antiretroviral treatment (ART) is not a cure for the disease, but it slows down the growth of the virus and effectively extends the lifespan of an infected patient.
Campaigns: Various campaigns have been running to raise awareness and encourage African Americans to test for HIV, including: “Testing Makes Us Stronger,” “Take Charge,” “Take the test.”
It’s important that access to healthcare is increased for African Americans with regards to other health conditions and opportunistic infections.