New Study Looks at Prevalence of HIV Infection Among Sex Trafficked Women and Girls

By Christine Cupaiuolo — August 3, 2007

The New York Times this week reported on a new study of the prevalence of HIV infection among sex-trafficked Nepalese girls and women. Donald G. McNeil Jr. writes:

The study, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, concerns girls from Nepal trafficked into bordellos in India, but the problem is also emerging elsewhere, said the lead author, Jay G. Silverman, a professor of human development at Harvard’s School of Public Health.

Girls from China’s Yunnan Province sold to Southeast Asian brothels, Iraqi girls from refugee camps in Syria and Jordan, and Afghan girls driven into Iran or Pakistan all appear to be victims of the same pattern, he said, and are presumably contributing to the H.I.V. outbreaks in southern China, Afghanistan and elsewhere. […]

The study, which was paid for by the State Department’s Office of Trafficking in Persons and by Harvard and Boston Universities, tested 287 girls and women being helped by a charity called Maiti Nepal, or Nepali Mother’s Home, in the capital, Katmandu. Most had been sent home by Indian anti-prostitution groups working with the police.

Thirty-eight percent of the Nepali women tested by Dr. Silverman’s team were infected with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. But among the youngest — the 33 girls who had been sent into sex slavery before they were 15 years old — the infection rate was 61 percent.

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