Nigeria: Arrests of Sex Workers Hampers Control of HIV Rates

Published: April 11, 2013

Continued clampdown on commercial sex workers, intravenous drug users (IDUs) and men who have sex with men in the FCT is hampering efforts to control infection rates of HIV/AIDS, proponents lament.

Female sex workers, drug users and men who sleep with men (MSM) are three of the highest-risk group of HIV in the FCT, and rates of infection among them is interwoven with that of the general public, said Angela Emenalo, community mobilisation officer at FCT Agency for Control of AIDS (FACA).

Continued raids by FCT officials of inner-city sites known for commercial sex and arrests of women involved could drive them underground, she said, adding it would make reaching such high-risk groups difficult.

"If we continue to criminalise IDUs or MSM, we can’t get to zero" in terms of reducing infections, deaths and stigma related to HIV/AIDS.

FCT’s HIV prevalence for over a decade has remained higher than the national average. Mapping by FACA has revealed clusters of sites for commercial sex work and intravenous drug use in addition to nearly 500 sites for sex between men—many of whom also have intercourse with persons of the opposite sex.

HIV indicator surveys from 2010 show low rate of condom use among high-risk groups and consequently increasing rate of infection by a marital spouse.

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