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Union Aid Abroad–APHEDA research to be presented at major AIDS Conference17 July 2012
Union Aid Abroad–APHEDA has been invited to present research conducted on HIV vulnerability in Cambodia at the 19th International AIDS Conference, to be held between July 22-27, 2012 in Washington DC, USA.
The research was undertaken in 2009-10 for the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and explores vulnerabilities to HIV for garment workers unemployed due to the global financial crisis and moving into entertainment work such as massage, karaoke or beer promotion.
The research was supported by APHEDA Cambodia staff and key Cambodian women's organisations; the Cambodian Women's Development Agency and Cambodian Women for Peace and Development - both long-term partners of APHEDA in Cambodia.
Neil Poetschka, then Mekong HIV/AIDS Advisor for APHEDA, was the principal researcher for the joint APHEDA-ILO report released in 2010, CAMBODIA - Addressing HIV vulnerabilities of indirect sex workers during the financial crisis: Situation analysis, strategies and entry points for HIV/AIDS workplace education. The report is available in English and Khmer on the ILO website. Neil will present the results as part of a panel exploring a labour rights approach to HIV and sex work.
The presentation explores the HIV vulnerabilities faced by entertainment workers, on meagre pay, who engage in indirect sex work in Phnom Penh to help earn extra money, often at great cost to their health.
The presentation recommends an occupational health and safety framework approach to sex work, with risks, including HIV, viewed as workplace risks.
Initiatives to address HIV vulnerabilities should also focus on coordinating occupational health and safety interventions in the entertainment sector in Phnom Penh; supporting the development of entertainment sector unions to improve salary and conditions; and addressing workplace and work-related abuse and violence.
The presentation is part of the conference's 'Global Village' Program, a platform for communities involved in the response to HIV.
The International AIDS Conference is a biennial conference managed by the International AIDS Society, an independent association of HIV professionals working at all levels of the global response to AIDS.
This year's conference has been controversial because the US Government has refused visas to a number of sex workers travelling to the US for the conference. Sex worker groups from 27 countries have organised a parallel conference in Kolkata, India.
The increase in the number of sex workers coincided with the implementation of the Cambodian Government's 'Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation', which saw the closure of many brothels that had previously distributed free condoms to customers and provided HIV education under the Government's 100% Condom Use Program. The nature of their work means that these women are also particularly vulnerable to alcohol abuse, violence, sexually transmitted infections and HIV.
Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA
Ph: (02) 9264 9343
Fax: (02) 9261 1118
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