GlobeMed at Rutgers is partnered with Cooperation for Social Services and Development in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, a grassroots organization that works to reduce HIV/AIDS rates among marginalized and vulnerable communities; these communities include women entertainment workers, men who have sex with men, and IV drug users. CSSD conducts outreach programs to promote healthy sex practices and works to decrease the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS as well as the discrimination these communities face.
In Cambodia, HIV disproportionately affects commercial entertainment workers. Coming from extremely poor communities, many women are forced into entertainment work. Most of these women leave their homes and families to work in Phnom Penh as entertainment workers to supplement their family income. Apart from discrimination, these women are at an increased risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. The stigma surrounding their occupation prevents these women from gaining access to education and healthcare.
Through discussion groups, the entertainment workers will have the opportunity to learn healthy sex practices to stay physically healthy and will be connected with healthcare services. The project will serve as a psychological support system for the young women and a space for them to draw strength from one another and their community. This support system is crucial for these young women who sacrifice so much to provide financial aid for their families, struggling with emotional burdens alone.
This outreach program will significantly reduce the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS infections among entertainment workers through promoting safe sexual practice. Investment in these women not only improves their health and lives, but also the lives of their children.