The 39th UNAIDS Program Coordinating Board Meeting took place in Geneva from 6-8 December 2016. APNSW Regional Coordinator Kay Thi Win spoke at the meeting on the needs of ageing sex workers.
“I think the ageing sex workers are much higher [risk] of the HIV…
In the work, what they find is they cannot work in the well-known sex work venues. So they mostly work on the street, and they find most of their clients on the street. So they often find violence, different kinds of violence, and the police arrest them – this is what they often find.
Then also they find the stigma and discrimination among the society. And [in] the work they do, their income is less and the demand is more from the client. What they are getting for work is more what the client is demanding. But they have to do because of their income and their daily life.
And the social stigma. What they find is very often they face stigma and discrimination from the society … people expect at that age they should be praying to god or going for meditation – why they on sex work? That was the society expectation. When they work on the street, people easily remember them. So they face discrimination because of their environment.
In [HIV] progams, condoms are not always distributed for the older sex workers; and they have a lot of needs. So program people need [to] consider and think about what older sex workers need.
Also programs should think about economic empowerment programs for sex workers, which are not about ‘rehabilitation’ or … ‘rescue’ organisations … When we include good economic empowerment in programs, older sex workers can think about additional income with their sex work so when they are older and their income is reducing, then they can be thinking about another income and how they can [have] better lives.”