Aug 6, 2008, 7:00 AM
NGOAIDS and partners last week held a one-day forum on HIV/AIDS on gender and human rights at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi, funded by UNAIDS-PAF 2011.
Ahmed Jegan Loum, chairman of Network of Aids Services Organisation (NASO) and CCM, in his presentation on the topic: “Provision of services to sex workers as it relates to HIV/AIDS”, said that in 1993-94 Gambians who were in sex work trade constituted 10 per cent, in 1995 the figure went to 25 per cent and in 2003, 60 per cent according to a base-line survey conducted by the Medical Research Council (MRC).
“This has shown to us that sex workers in The Gambia are increasing [in number] and as sex worker/s they don’t have social protection,” he said, noting that most women are involved in it because of poverty while others after their marriages have broken.
Sheikh E.T. Lewis, coordinator of NGOAIDS, in his presentation on the topic: “Gender HIV/AIDS and Human Rights”, said people should try and make sense of their experiences of sexuality and relationships, adding that they should also have more control over themselves as well as support each other.
“HIV/AIDS has no face and your only human right to HIV/AIDS is protecting yourself to protect others; only then can our relationships become safe for us and only then will sex begin to be safe for us all,” Mr Lewis said. “No matter how many partners we have had or why, we want to be valued sexually and as men and women and treated with respect, integrity and care.”
Pa Ousman Bah from National AIDS Control Program (NACP) delivered a presentation on “Global and National Overview on HIV/AIDS” whilst Mrs Harry Sowe delivered a presentation on the topic: “Gender and HIV/AIDS”.