VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN / October 2004
HIV infections per year were diagnosed in Russia. In the first 6 months of 1999, 5,000 new cases of HIV were reported (Dehne, Khodakevich, Hamers, & Schwartlander, 1999). In the city of Kaliningrad, Russia, 1 in 3 people infected with HIV was a woman, and 80% of the infected women were in prostitution (Smolskaya, Momot, Tahkinova, & Kotova, 1998). It is likely that this massive increase in HIV resulted from an extremely high rate of violence against women in Russia (Hamers, Downs, Infuso, & Brunet, 1998). In Russia, women are treated as “office prostitutes” via job requirements that require them to tolerate sexual harassment (Hughes, 2000).
In Senegal, prostitution is government regulated based on the assumption that regulation will reduce rates of HIV. Women are required to register as prostitutes, to have monthly medical checks, and to receive HIV counseling. They are also supplied with condoms. In a study comparing registered women who had received HIV education with those who were unregistered and uneducated about HIV, researchers found higher HIV infection rates among the registered women (Laurent et al., 2003). This study raises questions about the efficacy of HIV education programs.
HIV/AIDS EDUCATION AND THE PROMOTION OF PROSTITUTION
Some prostitutes’ organizations such as the NZPC have done valuable HIV/AIDS education, needle exchange, and condom distribution (Coney, 2003). This is a contribution to public health and has undoubtedly saved lives. On the other hand, there is an ominous side to the HIV education activities of groups who claim to represent all women in prostitution while they simultaneously promote prostitution as a job.
Alexander (1996) commented that the AIDS epidemic brought with it certain advantages to those promoting prostitution. The HIV epidemic has indirectly facilitated the growth of the commer- cial sex industry by creating funding opportunities for HIV edu- cation and outreach programs. Government funding for pro- grams promoting both HIV education and legal recognition of prostitution has taken place in Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Ger- many, the Netherlands, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, China,