5 Aug 2008

UN says HIV spreads by Pacific women selling sex for food

1:20 pm on 5 August 2008

United Nations officials say poor women in the Pacific selling sex for food scraps are helping to spread HIV/AIDS.

Delegates to a major AIDS conference in Mexico cited cases of women in the Pacific and in Africa, desperate for food, being forced to sell their bodies, adding to concerns about the spread of the disease.

The UN says climbing food prices, due to increased use of biofuels, the growing demand for grain, droughts and market speculation, caused 50 million more people to go hungry last year compared to the year before.

Stuart Gillespie of the International Food Policy Research Institute says this might lead to various distress responses, one of which, on the part of women, is having transactional sex to feed their children.

He says there have been examples of this in parts of Africa and in Papua New Guinea.