Mumbai: The traditional methods of solicitation by commercial sex workers (CSW) are no longer popular in the city. Over the years, this has transferred to more online soliciting customers has become a cause for concern to the health care experts who are unable to reach out to these CSW and counsel them on AIDS prevention.

Additional project director of the Mumbai District AIDS Control Society (MDACS) Dr Srikala Acharya said they have contacts on the ground only. Now there is more anonymity which makes it tougher to get concrete information on the backgrounds, residence or other such details.

“We are unable to identify particular areas where they operate from. We do not know if they are aware of safe sex, precautions and most of all the danger of AIDS and HIV. They need to be encouraged to undergo AIDS detection tests,” she said.

The MDACS have worked hard with Non Governmental Organisations and other health workers to ensure the AIDS infection ratio decreases. But the anonymity of the CSWs operating online however impacts their efforts adversely. “The present rate of new infections is now 0.5 percent and we do not want this to increase due to this trend of online solicitation,” she said.

MDACS now plan to use the social media platforms to try and reach out to the potential victims. Dr Acharya said, “We plan to create certain messages directed at safety and precaution for vulnerable persons. We will try to put these messages on the same sites they use to solicit customers. We do hope they go regularly for AIDS –detection tests,” she revealed. If this aspect of AIDS infection is not tackled, then the number of fresh cases may go up in the coming months and years, she cautioned.

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