January 19th. UNAIDS: Kay Forde has been a sex worker in Guyana for more than 20 years. She is an AIDS activist too. As secretary of the One Love Organization, a non-governmental organization addressing the HIV needs of sex workers, Ms Forde is committed to making a difference in the Kwakwani region, Guyana.
This commitment involves not only advocating for the rights of sex workers to live free of stigma and discrimination, with access to good information about HIV, it also extends to working with their clients. Many of the clients earn their living in the wood logging industry.
There are some 13,000 loggers in Guyana and they are a significant segment of the migrant worker population. With forests generally found in isolated areas, there can be a lack of regular access to both condoms and correct knowledge of how HIV is transmitted, which increases vulnerability to infection. Sex workers themselves are disproportionally affected by the virus with an HIV prevalence of around 16%, compared to an adult HIV prevalence in Guyana of 1.2%.
With this in mind, in 2009 One Love joined forces with the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Government of Guyana, the US Department of Labour and the PEPFAR HIV/AIDS Workplace Education Programme. One of the principle aims is to encourage HIV prevention among loggers with a core package of services. This includes condom promotion, voluntary HIV counselling and testing, and referrals for sexually transmitted infections, which together aim to increase risk recognition and promote safer sex.
The strategy to use the One Love Organization is working well, since awareness is now being created among both the organization