Understanding the Sexual and Reproductive Vulnerabilities of Female Sex Workers

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As part of the Avahan India AIDS Initiative, Alliance India recently conducted a study to identify the sexual and reproductive health (SRH) needs of female sex workers (FSW). The study, conducted in Andhra Pradesh, also aimed to determine the factors that contribute to increased vulnerability and rights violations of FSW with regards to SRH. In addition to this, this research served to study the barriers to access to SRH services by FSW.
The study found that condom use by FSW was low with regular partners, and that forced sex and sexual harassment by various segments of society, including policemen, was common. Even though a third of those interviewed reported using oral contraceptives, unintended pregnancies occurred frequently which then led to self-induced abortions and post-abortion complications. Only a third of the respondents felt they possessed the right to make decisions related to their pregnancies.
The study emphasizes the need to provide services beyond STI and HIV prevention and treatment for FSW, including those related to dual protection and contraceptives, safe abortions, and safe pregnancy. To create better access to SRH services for FSW, establishing good linkages with service providers and advocating with key stakeholders is essential.

You can read the entire report here.
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The Avahan India AIDS Initiative (2003-2013) is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The programme aims to reduce HIV transmission and the prevalence of STIs in vulnerable high-risk populations, specifically female sex workers, MSM, and transgenders, through prevention education and services such as condom promotion, STI management, behavior change communication, community mobilization, and advocacy. Avahan works in six states, and Alliance India is a state lead partner in Andhra Pradesh.

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