Thirty years since the start of the AIDS epidemic and on the occasion of the UN General Assembly High-level Meeting on AIDS (8-10 June 2011, New York), the UN Women office in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) will release the publication “Exploring the Dynamics and Vulnerabilities of HIV Transmission Amongst Sex Workers in the Palestinian Context” online on 9 June 2011. Supported by UN Women, the operational research publication aims to emphasize the importance of strengthening the current national HIV and AIDS policy in the oPt, dispel stigmas attached to sex work and call for greater efforts to prevent sexual exploitation and support reintegration.
Featuring inputs and testimonies collated from 243 respondents (28 sex workers, 63 key informants, 64 clients, and 88 university students) during face-to-face interviews and focus group discussions from March to June 2010, the publication provides a formative look into sex work in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem). Through the collection of both quantitative and qualitative data from individuals with primary or secondary knowledge on sex work, the research serves to address the protection gaps pertaining to this issue and associated vulnerabilities to HIV and AIDS in the oPt.
Some key findings include:
- 64.3 percent of the women in sex work were in forced sex work
- 96.3 percent of the women respondents were victims of gender-base violence before entering into sex work; 76 percent reporting previous sexual violence
- 18 percent of the women in sex work believed that they were vulnerable to HIV
- 81.2 percent of clients did not consider themselves as vulnerable to HIV
- 81.5 percent of the women in sex work never were tested for HIV.
The publication was written and researched within the framework of the joint UN programme “Scaling up universal access to prevention, treatment and care of HIV and AIDS in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt)” through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Since December 2008, the Global Fund has been providing financial support to the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) within the framework of a 5-year HIV programme (US$ 10,832,405), implemented through the UN family (namely WHO, UNFPA, UNODC, UNRWA, UNICEF and UN Women as sub-recipients, and under the overall coordination of UNDP as principal recipient) to support the Palestinian Authority, mainly through its Ministry of Health, and civil society. Download programme fact sheet.
The UN Women operational research is part of a national agenda on “Knowing Your Epidemics” and updating the epidemiological profile of the oPt through a set of research focusing on issues, such as illegal migration in Israel, injecting drug users and nation-wide assessments to name but a few. A comprehensive publication compiling all data and information collated will be presented in the oPt on World AIDS Day, 1 December 2011.
- Julien Vaissier, Media & Advocacy Officer, UN Women occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), 05 43 44 23 58