A novel academy with faculty drawn from sex workers, all for the prevention
Chief minister B S Yeddyurappa on Monday inaugurated the UNAIDS — ADB — Ashodaya regional learning site on HIV and sex work. This first regional learning centre in Asia Pacific, Ashodhaya Academy, a unit of Ashodaya Samithi a sex workers' organisation based in Mysore, will have sex workers as faculty as well as experts in HIV/AIDS.
At the launch, Yeddyurappa said: "Sex workers play an important role in creating awareness in prevention of HIV and in capacity building. This academy will guide representatives from across the country and the world. As Karnataka is a high-risk state, such initiative are significant in disease prevention." The average HIV prevalence among female sex workers is over 5%.
Michel Sidibe, UNAIDS executive director and UN under-secretary general, said: "There is a need to fight against stigma and social prejudices associated with the disease and capacity building for transforming the lives of PLHIV (People Living with HIV) is essential. Despite evidence and experience of what works to prevent HIV transmission among the risk group, coverage for HIV prevention and treatment services in Asia is minimal.
A major challenge in interventions for sex workers is quality of evidence we use in deciding policy, strategy and resource allocations. The need was to introduce interventions for sex workers that go beyond project scaling, reaching diverse subgroups of sex workers and expansion to non-urban areas." He added, "The recent amendment of Sec 377 of IPC is a move towards social justice and equality."
A heart-rending documentary on the plight of paediatric AIDS called 'A Generation Challenged' by Maya Jaideep and Kestur Vasuki was also released. "There is a need to create awareness on paediatric aids to remove stigma and to prevent mother-to-child transmission. Such a documentary is an eye-opener and the government would support it," said CM.