The Effects Of Covid 19 is a groundbreaking report released by the Human Rights Campaign, an international organization that defends and promotes human rights around the world. It is noteworthy that the word “covid” is derived from a combination of two Latin words: “cavi” (vigorish) and “ci” (and hence, “city”). This is because the disease is primarily caught through sexual contact with a person who has the Condition. As the report indicates, this condition affects women who work in prostitution.
While, to date, the presence of a relatively small burden of covid-19 pandemic, it’s the adverse impact on prostitution that has had especially dire consequences for low and middle-income countries, including sex workers, many of which depend on local income to sustain their lives. The researchers behind Effects Of Covid 19 claim that a mere 1.5% of the prostitutes tested during an HIV-aids program in rural Africa had the virus, demonstrating the ineffectiveness of the programs on a very vulnerable population. The implication is that if only one in 100 tested women contracts the disease, the rate of transmission would be about five infections per million unprotected women each year. Add to this the fact that most women who do contract the virus are already HIV-unprotected, and the numbers become alarming.
The problem of course is not limited to developing countries. In developed nations like the United States, Great Britain and Australia, the rates of infection are alarmingly high, particularly among black sex workers. But even within developed nations, there are wide variations in how poorly implemented condom use and other protective measures to reduce the risk of infection. In Canada, an examination of six cities revealed widespread under-use of condoms, both in public and private spaces, particularly in establishments catering to gay and bisexual communities.
In one study, a full seventy-two percent of gay and bisexual men admitted to having engaged in unprotected sex with other men during the past year, indicating a large proportion of unprotected sex is taking place within venues catering to sexual minorities. In a subsequent study, in a large urban centre in Canada, more than eighty-one percent of people questioned stated they had engaged in casual sex at some point during the past year, indicating a level of under-reporting that makes accurate analysis of the national health measure nearly impossible.
What makes the situation worse is the failure to address the problem, either through education, law or government policy. Lack of information means that any gaps in protective measures are not covered, leading to a situation of illusory security. In Kenya, where AIDS was just beginning to take shape as a truly threatening disease, the implications are even more dire. There are currently no plans to train police officers in how to interact with sex workers and offer protection to them. The result is that many sex workers have little or no knowledge they may have an HIV infection. Kenya’s national HIV programme does not have the resources or the will to conduct awareness-raising campaigns.
According to interviews with participants in Kenya’s gay community, the negative stigma associated with HIV and AIDS has been a major factor in the development of the HIV/AIDS phenomenon in Kenya. Many say that HIV/AIDS is something that gay men experience in a fear of societal rejection. It is this stigma that facilitates discrimination, harassment and violence against the community. Participants in the interviews also described the negative impact HIV/AIDS can have on their families and on their lives in general, exacerbating already worrying conditions. Some felt HIV would be used as a tool by some members of the community to terrorise, threaten and even kill those engaging in sexual activity.
It was further suggested that a lack of awareness about HIV/AIDS in Kenyans contributes to this attitude: that people see HIV as a ‘clean’ virus, one which can be kept away from children; and therefore do not feel HIV infection is a problem. Some of the interviewees also described being trapped within the ‘community’ when HIV testing was not offered at health facilities, leaving them open to attack by the community if they tested HIV. Others said that the failure to offer routine HIV tests means that Kenyans are not even aware that they are infected.
In addition, Kenyans remain uninformed about the fact that safe sex is a way of preventing HIV infection and thus continue to be at risk. To put these findings into context, researchers estimate that nearly 15% of Kenyans have been positively identified with HIV and AIDS. This means that the prevalence rate of HIV among Kenyans is higher than the global average and demonstrates the need for immediate action by health officials to implement strategies and implement public education programmes regarding the HIV epidemic among the population.