Prostitution: The threat to HIV/Aids in Sierra Leone Part I
In all my years of writing about HIV and Aids in Sierra Leone; I never once took time to examine or pay attention to this aspect of the fight against the HIV/Aids pandemic, until yesterday, Wednesday, after a tiring editorial day in the office when I broke up to grab a beer at a popular nearby hangout known as Krio Wendys, a block away from my office.
Taking the chilled beer, savouring its taste, and grateful for the rescue it gave me from the headache and drudgery in the editorial work, I noticed a somewhat frenzied movement in and out of various hideouts around the bar, makeshift rooms wedged between houses; I got sick to the gut when I came to realize that men took turns on specific girls, some fairly older women.
Although the very thought of the whole thing sickened me, I wanted to learn more as to what really obtained there so that I could make informed judgement about the situation. I sat on a stool at the bar, the music was cool and played low, I ordered a beer for the bar man who did not waste time to compliment my goodwill by referring to me as his boss and assured me that I would have whatever I wanted as long asÂ he was at the bar. I nodded my head in a thank you gesture and waited as we both drank in silence whilst my eyes were affixed to the happenings around us.
On my second beer, I was bold enough to ask my good friend; the bar tender if that’s the way things go at the place and I was asked in return if that was my first time of being there. You can have any one of those you see around for as cheap as Le 5,000 (1.5 US dollars); that’s if you are going to be using condoms but if you want the naked thing – flesh to flesh you should give them Le 10,000 ($3). Knowing the medical implications of such highly risky and immoral adventures, my heart grew numb losing the taste and satisfaction I enjoyed from my favourite beer -Star.
For three dollars one could be infected with the disease I told myself! I saw a beautiful lady, quite young and frail, taken in and out three times. After the fourth time, I grabbed her shoulder, turned her around and asked: what are you doing to yourself, would you kill yourself for this, and she replied its business, what do you care for long or short? Am in a hurry! With condom you pay and flesh to flesh you pay. My mouth went dry and I released her shoulder beginning to only realise the magnitude of the social problem I jumped at solving there and then.
As I sat pondering over what just happened, more and more ladies poured in to the place, male complements came too and the whole place was bursting into perpetual orgy extravaganza I never once thought of. Taste of women was of no essence, any body grabbed anyone to have the dashing thrill. An aspect in me told me to flee away whilst I still thought about knowing every thing I could
But the problem was the whole thing got vicarious the more time went by and as the flock kept winning the numbers.
I could not finish my second beer at the bar; I left the bottle and headed back for the office vowing to look into the matter as much as I can. Back in the office, on my computer, my meditation went berserk as I thought of the HIV and Aids stories in my country. A few months back – sometime last year, I was speaking to the Head of the Aids Secretariat in my country and I got to learn that with all efforts put together the prevalence of HIV and Aids pandemic in the country had been steadied at 2.5% since the last sero prevalence survey in 2005; this was confirmed by the United Nations Population Fund in Sierra Leone.Â Â The problem though is that what I have begun to uncover may give a turnaround to the whole acclaimed success in the fight against the HIV and Aids Pandemic. Join me in my next series on Tuesday 20th September 2009 and see how we can explore this denting discovery.Â Â
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