Saturday, December 1, 2007
Day Seven - 1 Dec –World AIDS Day | Talk About SAFE Sex
Let's talk about SAFE sex! AIDS has made its way into a variety of communities-gay men, heterosexual men and women, blood transfusions, and injectable drug users, and now migrant workers and truckers who move across regions and countries. However the majority of people living with AIDS are heterosexuals and increasingly women, many of whom lack the knowledge and power to insist on safe sex with their partners.
For example, in many cultures, men visit sex workers and then the men refuse to wear condoms. Some sex workers have made organizations and compaigns to insist on condom usage, such as in Thailand or India. At the same time, if the sex workers are unorganized in such a campaign, "No Glove, No Love", then they face economic pressures to insist that their customers wear a condom because the customer can move on to the next sex worker.
Or women trafficked and/or migrated to India or the Middle East and in sex work may have the same problems and can return HIV positive and face the social stigma from their previous activities and HIV infection.
Migrant workers--men and women--become HIV positive during their construction and domestic-sex-care work(s) and are deported back to their country of origin, for example, Nepali women or Bangladeshi male -female migrant workers, who in turn infect their wives-husbands.
Although the levels of HIV infection are still relatively low for Bangladesh sex workers, I am very concerned about their high client loads and low condom use by clients. For Bangladeshi sex workers in hotels, they may see 8-10 customers per day and really increase their risks of STDs and HIV, if the customers refuse to wear condoms.
In turn, the male customers go home and have unprotected sex with their wives--who due to social practices about sex within marriage--may not be able to ask their husbands to wear a condom b/c this would acknowledge his sexual activities outside of marriage. VAW mean that husbands and male partners may sexually assault wives and girlfriends who are unable to use safe sex protection and/or birth control and hence risk STDs, HIV infection, and unwanted pregnancy.
Other researchers have discovered that MSM (who have sex with men) in Bangladesh and other countries often are married, too, according to heteronormative social pressures to marry and procreate.
And the cycle of infections go on largely because we do not talk about or insist on SAFE sex with our partners. The central players in this story are the men who refuse to have safe sex-use condoms with their assorted partner(s). The people who have the most problematic sex histories are also the most likely to lie about their precautions, HIV status or even get tested, even if the facilities are available, which are very few in countries such as Bangladesh. Testing continues to carry shame-stigma for many people, hence, the publicity surrounding celebrities and politicians getting HIV tests.
During my time in Bangladesh, I have talked with sex workers how about to educate and motivate men for more condom use and created this safe sex poster. This poster stars Mr. Bunny, driver Ripon's rear view mirror-toy, because no men would hold or pose with condoms for this type of poster. I found that we could use Mr. Bunny in a variety of educational poses, storytelling, and situations.
Mr. Bunny has two condoms in hand and some taka tucked into in his little vest & lungi attire. In Bangla, Mr. Bunny says: "I have condoms and money. Let's make love. Smart rabbits always wear-use condoms."
Hence, on World Aids Day, let's talk about Safe sex with our partner(s), friends, family, and others. Let's also remember the people who have passed on as well as the large numbers of people living with AIDs around the world, and particularly in Africa and South Asia who are trying survive without access to the expensive anti-viral medicines used by people in the North.