About My Health Careers Internship MedBlogs Contact us
Medindia LOGIN REGISTER

Sex Workers Adopt IT Solutions to Fight AIDS

by Medindia Content Team on July 17, 2006 at 4:25 PM
Font : A-A+

Sex Workers Adopt IT Solutions to Fight AIDS

If you think IT is only for the white collar tech-savvy urbanites, think again. Marginalised sex workers in Karnataka are now swiping their newly acquired smart cards to avail themselves of discounts on daily purchases while keeping a check on HIV/AIDS.

About 500 disorganised sex workers in Mysore and Mandya districts of Karnataka are now armed with smart cards that not only prompt them to get regular health check ups to keep track of their STI (sexually transmitted infections) status but also get discounts on their daily purchases - from grocery to perfumes.


This pilot project began in July in the two districts at the initiative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in association with the University of Manitoba, Canada. It can be replicated in the rest of India if proved successful, Sushena Reza-Paul, assistant professor at the university, told IANS from Mysore.

"When we started the STI prevention programme and issued health cards to the majority of illiterate women here, who are not brothel-based like Kolkata's Sonagachi red light area, we found that follow-up is a big problem. They come from villages and go back and there are several girls of the same name," said Reza-Paul, who is also an advisor to Ashodaya Mahila Samannaya Samity, a sex workers' organisation.

Reza-Paul said that these sex workers were initially given ID numbers, which they did not remember. Following this, they were issued health cards, but they did not attach much value to it.

"It was then that we thought of using IT solutions to get them interested in periodic health check ups for HIV/AIDS prevention by issuing cards that would also entitle them to get discounts on daily purchases. The economic benefit of the card will prompt them to get periodic health check ups, failing which the card cannot be renewed," said Reza-Paul.

"We contacted their preferred vendors from whom they buy their daily grocery, sari, refreshments, and make-up. Then we sat with a software company and we merged the health card with a smart card," added Reza-Paul.

"Now the sex workers would be interested in renewing their cards every three months while keeping track of their expense patterns. The health record and status of any sex worker under the project will also be available at the click of a mouse in computers which have smart card terminals."

Mrinal Kanti Dutta, the former Sonagachi HIV/AIDS prevention project head, said the smart card approach could be a powerful weapon to fight infections among sex workers across the country.

"We are planning to write to Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram so that sex workers holding smart cards are given preferential treatment like senior citizens (who get one percent more interest) in various government saving schemes," said Dutta, who is now assisting sex workers of Karnataka to replicate the Sonagachi model.

Sonagachi's HIV/AIDS prevention project has been selected as the role model for a $200 million programme of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in six Indian states, including Karnataka.

"We want the sex workers to ultimately use the smart card like an ATM card to deposit their earnings in the bank and produce it before the police like an identity card to avoid harassment. The multi-sectoral approach will help us prevent STI," said Reza-Paul, admitting that the scheme is not without its teething problems.

National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) director general Sujata Rao too has shown interest in the project.

(Source: IANS)

News A-Z
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
News Category
What's New on Medindia
Black Tea Protects against Blood Pressure and Heart Diseases
Green Mediterranean Diet may Help Repair Age-Related Brain Damages
Cervical Cancer Awareness Month 2022
View all

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

More News on:
Oral Health And AIDS AIDS/HIV AIDS/HIV - Epidemiology AIDS/HIV - Clinical Features AIDS/HIV - Health Education AIDS/HIV - Prevention And Transmission AIDS / HIV - Treatment AIDS - Initial Theories and Disease Progression AIDS/HIV - Worldwide distribution and Risk of Transmission AIDS/HIV - Common Opportunistic Infections 
Recommended Reading
AIDS - Initial Theories and Disease Progression
AIDS was first detected in early 1980s, among gays, Haitians and black Africans. HIV is a descendant...
AIDS / HIV - Treatment
Encyclopedia section of medindia explains in brief about the treatment for AIDS/HIV...
AIDS/HIV
"AIDS is an epidemic disease, a potentially preventable, deadly infection for which there is no cure...
AIDS/HIV - Clinical Features
Encyclopedia section of medindia gives general info about HIV Clinical Features...
AIDS/HIV - Common Opportunistic Infections
Kaposi sarcoma develops below the skin surfaces or in mucous membranes of mouth, nose or anus and ap...
AIDS/HIV - Epidemiology
AIDS or HIV is an epidemic disease, a potentially deadly infection that can be prevented with preca...
AIDS/HIV - Health Education
Encyclopedia section of medindia gives general info about AIDS information and health education....
AIDS/HIV - Prevention And Transmission
Encyclopedia section of medindia explains in brief about the prevention for AIDS/HIV...
AIDS/HIV - Worldwide distribution and Risk of Transmission
Epidemiologic studies indicate three broad yet distinct geographic patterns of transmission...
Oral Health And AIDS
AIDS has taken on massive proportions in modern times. It is estimated that over 15 million people a...

Disclaimer - All information and content on this site are for information and educational purposes only. The information should not be used for either diagnosis or treatment or both for any health related problem or disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician for medical diagnosis and treatment. Full Disclaimer

© All Rights Reserved 1997 - 2022

This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use
open close
ASK A DOCTOR ONLINE
I have read and I do accept terms of use - Telemedicine

Advantage Medindia: FREE subscription for 'Personalised Health & Wellness website with consultation' (Value Rs.300/-)