AIDS, mobility and commercial sex in Ethiopia: Implications for policy

AIDS Care. 2007 Jan;19(1):79-86. doi: 10.1080/09540120600805091.


Since the emergence of the AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa, male mobility has been highlighted as one of the reasons for the spread of the disease with men employing the services of commercial sex workers while away from home. However, sex workers' mobility and the implications of this for their access to prevention services, has largely been ignored. This paper, based on multi-method qualitative research with 60 young sex workers in two Ethiopian towns, reveals that sex workers are highly mobile, moving in order to attract a wider or different client base, for adventure and to conceal illnesses which might be associated with AIDS. In addition, sex workers are affected by restrictions on their movements, with girls working in bars and red-light areas having little free time to access projects. This paper advocates that policy approaches need to take account of this mobility in three ways: first, by exploring ways for girls to access information and maintain contact with support structures while moving between places of work; second, by building the capacity of sex workers to take greater control over decision-making in their day-to-day lives and third, by developing outreach strategies for taking services into bars and red-light areas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / prevention & control*
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / transmission
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ethiopia / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Policy / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Work / psychology*
  • Transients and Migrants / psychology*