Jamra primary scholl for children affected by HIV/AIDS, drugs or poverty, Senegal (c) Nell Freeman/Alliance Participants in the Photovioce project, Ecuador © Marcela Nievas for the Alliance
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The Global Fund delivers value for money

28
APR
2011

Sex workers on the streets of Ecuador © Gideon Mendel for the Alliance

In Latin America and the Caribbean a grant from the Global Fund is making a real difference to the lives of sex workers.

The Global Fund delivers value for money and donors should commit to a fully funded Global Fund.

This is 1 of 7 key Alliance messages calling on world leaders to recommit to universal access targets in advance of the 2011 UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS which takes place in June.

In a concentrated epidemic funding needs to be targeted at populations who are at higher risk of HIV infection such as people engaged in sex work, people who inject drugs, and men who have sex with men.

However, HIV prevention programmes which support these populations receive less than a fifth of the total funding support for HIV prevention globally.

Targeting sex workers

In Latin America and the Caribbean the Global Fund is funding people and communities who are at higher risk of HIV.

Here the Latin America and the Caribbean Network of Sex Workers (REDTRASEX) have been awarded $4 million by the Global Fund, their largest grant they have received so far. The grant is for the implementation of a regional project with female sex workers.

Sex workers are one of the groups at higher risk HIV due to multiple sexual partners, high levels of stigma, discrimination and violence. All of these issues make it harder to reach them with HIV services.

Prevention campaigns aimed at sex workers can not only reduce the number of HIV infections that results from paid sex but can also have an impact on the national epidemic. This has been shown in India and Cambodia.

Knowledge and passion

Elena Reynaga is a sex worker and the Regional Coordinator of REDTRASEX. She is incredibly passionate about the work she does. "Sex workers who arrive at REDTRASEX´s National Organizations often feeling guilty as a result of years of a sexist environment and culture. We need to transmit knowledge and passion to empower women to decide whether they want to be sex workers or not. We are always looking for alternatives and support during the process", Elena says. 

“I am proud and moved by this recognition by the Global Fund” she says, “the grant is a tribute to REDTRASEX´s work, and it will allow us to continue working on improving the access to human rights for all and the repeal of punitive laws that criminalize our work.”

When she first started selling sex Elena was not aware of the stigma, the discrimination and police repression that she would endure. However, given the chance she would not go back and change things, "because of what happened to me I am what I am and always will be, I don’t regret any decision," she says with conviction and a smile that confirm her strong beliefs.

The lack of government commitment to universal access, and the fact that worldwide only 36% of people in need of treatment have access to it angers Elena, “In Latin America there is a huge gap on HIV prevention programs and on the sustainability of the existing efforts, without the Global Fund, many programs may stop."

“I am aware of all the challenges that lie ahead of us. Injustice inspires me to keep working every day. We, the sex workers, have made the changes and we will keep inspiring people to join our task”.

The Global Fund is currently struggling to be financed at the level needed to support a scaled up response to reach universal access. To ensure that programmes like this one continue it is vital that the international community at the UN High Level Meeting on AIDS commit to fully funding the Global Fund.

    I am proud and moved by this recognition by the Global Fund