Sunday, January 25, 2009

Prostitutes to teach each other techniques to avoid AIDS

(EFE) - Dozens of prostitutes in Costa Rica will learn how to protect themselves from AIDS thanks to the advice of their colleagues within the framework of a program financed by the World Bank and being conducted by a local non-governmental organization.

The "La Sala" Association for the Improvement of Quality of Life of Sexual Workers, the NGO pursuing the project, aims to train a group of prostitutes so that they can be the ones who teach other women in the sex trade.

In remarks published Sunday in the daily La Nacion, one of the project's coordinators, Maria Diaz, said that the goal is to "empower sexual workers in the matter of prevention" of AIDS.

In all, the La Sala officials will train 22 prostitutes to impart the message to their colleagues.

The project will be started in San Jose but later it will be extended to the Caribbean port of Limon and the Pacific port of Puntarenas. It will cost $50,000, which has been contributed by the World Bank.

Diaz said that the techniques designed to avoid contracting AIDS will not be limited only to using condoms when engaging in sexual relations with customers, but also in teaching the women what their sexual rights are.

It is expected that the program will have a multiplier effect among the country's prostitutes and will also raise awareness among some 1,100 regular male customers and brothel owners.

"This part will be difficult. What we want is for the (brothel) managers to understand the advantages of having their locales free of HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) and for them to promote them as places where they apply preventive practices," she said.

The number of prostitutes in Costa Rica is not known for certain, but it has been documented that in addition to Costa Rican women, there are also large numbers of Nicaraguans, Dominicans and Colombians practicing the trade. EFE

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