Social development of commercial sex workers in India: an essential step in HIV/AIDS prevention

AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2004 Mar;18(3):159-68. doi: 10.1089/108729104322994847.


India has the highest number of HIV/AIDS cases in the world. Current HIV/AIDS prevention strategies are based on regular and appropriate condom use. However, most commercial sex workers (CSWs), who form the core/high-risk groups toward whom the prevention strategy is directed, are disempowered and socioeconomically marginalized. This does not allow them to insist on condom use by the client, especially in absence of governmental structural support. This paper discusses HIV/AIDS prevention issues that relate to CSWs in India; issues that play a vital role in initiation, perpetuation, and expansion of economic activity of CSWs; and those factors that influence the HIV/AIDS preventive practices of CSWs. This paper argues that CSWs can be empowered and emancipated; that HIV/AIDS control and prevention efforts in India must recognize that ad hoc promotion of condom use or similar such programs will not be effective to control HIV/AIDS; and that more extensive developmental work aimed at betterment of living conditions of CSWs is required for effective HIV/AIDS prevention.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • Health Planning*
  • Health Promotion / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • India
  • Male
  • Safe Sex
  • Sex Work*
  • Social Change*
  • Vulnerable Populations