Enlist sex workers also in battle against COVID-19: HIV expert

Bengaluru, Apr 17 () India's sex workers had played akey role in bringing down HIV infections and their servicescan now be utilised to contain the spread of COVID-19, says anoted physician.

Dr Sundar Sundararaman, who has worked in HIV field formore than 30 years, urged the government to co-opt sex workersand deploy them on the ground to undertake tasks like the onesdone by ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) and Anganwadiworkers.

"Had sex workers not cooperated in the last 15years, we wouldn't have brought down HIV at all, theindependent consultant told .

"In fact, today we are talking about COVID warriorsheroes.Why are we forgetting HIV warriors, and HIV heroes.Advertisement

Sex workers were in the frontline who made sure new(HIV) infections were mitigated."

During the ongoing lockdown period, Sundararamansaid loss for sex workers, who are in every single geography,is going to be very huge because of social distancing.

Like ASHA and Anganwadi workers, they have thecapacity and skill to gather and disseminate information andtheir services can be also be utilised for similar initiativesto curb the spread of COVID-19 and positioned as socialchampions.
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This is a very good opportunity for sex workers tobecome socially relevant, he said.

Secretary of Ashodaya Samithi, a Mysuru-based sexworkers collective, Bhagyalakshmi said sex workers, out ofbusiness during the lockdown period, are struggling to makeends meet. Some have bank passbook, some don't as they live onthe roads and have no houses, she said, appealing to thegovernment to give them at least Rs 1000-Rs 1500 to buyessentials.Advertisement

Sources said some sex workers are using innovativeways to offer their service, like sex talk, long-distance sexand mobile videos and get paid through digital paymentplatforms.

But it's a very small amount of money and smallnumber of people is involved. RS BNWELCOME BNWELCOME
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