Background Link Worker Scheme, a rural intervention model aims to reach out to the High Risk Groups and vulnerable men and women in rural areas with information, knowledge, skills on STI/HIV prevention and risk reduction. In the district of Burdwan the programme has reached out to 2629 sex workers to reduce their vulnerability of contracting HIV infection. They are being reached out by the link workers selected from the community itself and they are linked up with the STI clinics and also with government supported Integrated counselling and testing centres for availing services.
Method Since 2009 the programme is being rolled out in 100 villages targeting 2629 rural sex workers. They are made empowered with need based knowledge and skills for reducing their own vulnerability of contracting HIV infection. Side by side various mid-media and awareness programmes are conducted addressing the preventive and vulnerability reduction issues. Condoms are being made available to the sex workers through various channels which are easily accessible to them. After thorough counselling 2080 sex workers have undergone HIV testing at different government supported integrated counselling and testing centres (ICTC). Regular follow-ups are being done by the link workers with support from village level government health service providers and other community stakeholders.
Result From September 2009 to January 2013, 2080 sex workers have undergone HIV testing out of which only 8 (0.4%) have been found HIV positive.
Conclusion Through the programme activities rural sex workers have been reached out effectively by the community based dedicated link workers and the sex workers have realised their own vulnerability and opted for practising safe sexual behaviour in order to reduce their vulnerability of being contracted by the virus. The outcome of the programme has shown a positive response towards achieving the goal of the programme.
- Sex worker
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