-Mohammad Khairul Alam-
-Executive Director-
-Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation-


Bangladesh is still a low prevalence country (HIV-infection rate is less than 1%), but there is a potential for expanding HIV/AIDS epidemic in the future, because the country is very receptive to HIV infection. The receptivity is due to increasing trend of prostitution, domestic and international migration, urbanization, poverty, and proximity to areas with advances epidemics and sexual permissiveness or high-risk sexual behavior of members of certain groups of people. HIV infection and AIDS cases in IDUs tend to increase within last two years.

In Dhaka city, Mobile Female sex workers (M-SWs) are unusually vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse by both close partners and clients/customers. Public health interventions for M-SWs have to integrate basic services such as shelter, social support, education, feasible employment opportunities, and prevention of drug abuse and clients violence. There is a relationship between client violence, drug use, and risks of HIV/STDs among M-SWs. It is crucial to pay close attention to these relationships so that more effective policies and programmes to serve M-SWs can be developed.

Mobile Sex Workers (M-SWs) in Bangladesh would play a critical role of HIV/AIDS infections. Due to the types of their work, the lack of sexually transmitted infections (STI/STDs) awareness and low acceptance of condom use, M-SWs represent a highly vulnerable group in Bangladesh. The sharp rise in others sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in Bangladesh contributes to the spread of HIV and may lead to a extensive epidemic, as the heterosexual mode of others STI transmission accounts for an increasing percentage of HIV transmission.

Studies of street beggars conducted by Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation in mid-2006s at Kamrangir Char, Lalbagh and Polashi in Dhaka city in Bangladesh surveyors confirm the 40-45 per cent of homeless beggars (adult male) indulge in multi-partner sex with less than 10 per cent of them reporting condom use. Mobile sex workers are the main sex partners of them.



Mobile Sex Workers (M-SWs) are closely associated with the tourism and transport industries where they find a large supply of potential clients. Tourism, which provides additional clients for sex workers, and transport workers, who exploit commercial sex workers, facilitates transmission of the virus to the general population.

It is visible fact that a large number of migrant and traveling or transport sector worker in Bangladesh several times meet mobile/ floating sex workers. Mobility and migration are not in themselves risk factors for HIV, but can create environment in which people are more vulnerable. Separation from spouse, family and socio-cultural norms, together with isolation and loneliness, and a sense of anonymity, can lead to situations which make migrants and mobile workers more susceptible to exposure to HIV. It is then carried back to their families, the intended beneficiaries of the income from the migration.

Mobile Sex workers frequently suffer from physical and sexual violence. One study in Dhaka city by Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation, indicated that in the past six months, 12% were forced into sex (raped) and 15% were beaten by their clients to avoid payment.

However, Mobile Sex Workers (M-SWs) and HIV/AIDS were not regarded as complex social phenomenon in Bangladesh. But it is suspicious, though there is no information about HIV/AIDS prevalence among M-SWs and their clients, which can become a critical issue of general public health, especially if we keep in mind that HIV/AIDS prevalence among M-SWs and their client groups vary in deferent region in Bangladesh.

Source: Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation, UNAIDS, CARE, UNICEF

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