25 Mar 2010

Fiji crimes decree may undermine HIV prevention, says study

2:58 pm on 25 March 2010

New data suggests that Fiji's crimes decree could make it harder for sex workers to practice safe sex, which could increase the country's HIV/AIDS rate.

A report, called 'Risky Business: Sex work and HIV prevention in Fiji' was published this week and contains 40 in-depth interviews with sex workers from Suva, Nadi, Lautoka and Labasa.

It shows that sex workers use condoms if they know about health risks and have access to condoms and support groups.

But its author, Research Associate at the International HIV Research Group, Karen McMillan, says the decree, prohibiting prostitution and introducing harsher penalties, will put this at risk.

"There's been a new crimes decree and it's quite clear from this research that it won't stop sex work but it will make it more difficult for sex workers to learn about HIV prevention, to negotiate condom use and just generally to practice safe sex."

Karen McMillan says most prostitutes are driven into sex work out of poverty.