Low condom use blamed for new HIV cases in Indonesia

Nurses at the HIV integrated care unit of Cipto Mangunkusumo government hospital in Jakarta attend to an HIV patient infected from drug use on Nov 30, 2012 as Indonesia battles HIV/AIDS. -- PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (JAKARTA POST/ANN) - At daylight, the street outside Tanah Abang railway station is an illegal parking lot. By night, it turns into a red-light district where dozens of women offer themselves for paid sex.

Since the government decided to close down brothels, such as Kramat Tunggak in North Jakarta, sex workers are using the streets as their new bordellos.

Mr Aldo, programme coordinator with the Indonesian Sex Workers Organization (OPSI), told The Jakarta Post that the women were particularly prone to becoming infected with the HIV virus. Once infected, it was likely they would spread HIV among their clients. "These women have a very low bargaining position when it comes to safe sex. Their customers can easily find another sex worker who doesn't demand protected sex," said Mr Aldo.

A newly published United Nations report shows that the rate of new HIV infections in Indonesia increased by more than 25 per cent between 2001 and 2011. Meanwhile, the country's HIV-prevention programs only reached 25 per cent of the total number of sex workers and males who have sex with males.