Globally, sex workers are 13.5 times more likely to be living with HIV than others. Sex work is criminalised in over 110 countries contributing to high levels of violence, stigma, discrimination and other human rights violations. This often results in inconsistent condom use and prevents sex workers from accessing necessary legal support and health care—for example, only 22.5% of female sex workers in Africa have access to HIV prevention programmes. These barriers make sex workers considerably more vulnerable to HIV and AIDS, as well as other sexually transmitted infections and different forms of violence.
Direct support for sex worker-led organisations
Aidsfonds works to improve the health and well-being of sex workers. To this end, we give funding for advocacy and empowerment activities and ensure the availability of sex worker-friendly services. We involve sex worker-led organisations and networks in improving the provision of tailored HIV services and advocating for their human rights.
Reducing violence against sex workers
Modelling estimates show that a reduction of almost 25 percent in HIV infections among sex workers can be achieved when physical or sexual violence is reduced. Since 2015, Aidsfonds, together with in-country partners, including many sex worker-led organisations, have worked to reduce violence against sex workers via the Hands Off programme. At the moment, the programme is active in Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Training South African police to work with vulnerable communities
While combating violence is the domain of the police, in South Africa, they were major perpetrators of violence. Aidsfonds financed and supported the development of the Dignity, Diversity and Policing training manual to address the stigmatising and discriminatory attitudes by South African Police. After years of lobby, Dutch civil society umbrella organisation, COC, and other partners got South African Police Services (SAPS) and sex workers to work together on the basis of a ground-breaking memorandum of understanding. A crucial step in the prevention of HIV, since violence undermines prevention efforts and makes sex workers more vulnerable to HIV.