Aids Myanmar Association (AMA), is Myanmar’s national peer-led sex worker organisation representing sex workers of all genders. AMA was founded in 2007, and emerged organically from the Targeted Outreach Program (TOP) project, an internationally recognised best practice service provision program funded and initiated by Population Services International (PSI).
AMA, which means “big sister” in Burmese, is also a literal Burmese translation of the term “sex worker.” According to Kay Thi Win, a founding member of AMA, the organisation is “Myanmar’s only 100 percent sex worker-led network”. AMA was established with the intention of providing peer-led advocacy around sex work issues, including to create a space for Myanmar’s male and trans* sex workers to become involved in peer-led HIV interventions and to engage in the national sex worker movement.
Although AMA’s membership includes representation from all areas of the sex industry, Win estimates that 70% of AMA’s members are street based sex workers. Win said that many sex workers choose street based sex work due to the independence it offers. “In Myanmar sex workers come from different cities and ethnicities, but the majority are ethnic Burmese. We also have a significant number of male, transgender, and bisexual sex workers.” Prior to the establishment of AMA there were no peer-led programs for male or trans* sex workers.
In addition to a central office in Yangon, AMA currently has a presence in 35 cities across Myanmar.