February 3, 2016
This post originally appeared on PSI’s blog. Reposted with permission.
Female sex workers (FSWs) are at heightened risk of both HIV infection and unintended pregnancy. Although programs targeting FSWs emphasize HIV prevention and condom promotion, they typically overlook the broader reproductive health needs of these women. This week at the International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP), a presentation on the MULU/MARPsHIV Prevention Project by PSI/Ethiopia highlighted the importance of effective integration of family planning and HIV services. The word “MULU” when translated from Amharic, means complete, while MARPS is the acronym used for “most at-risk populations.”
In its initial phase, the MULU/MARPsproject focused on reducing the number of new HIV infections among key populations in Ethiopia, including female sex workers. The project operated through a combination prevention lens that included behavioral interventions (e.g., interpersonal communication activities and community wide events), biomedical interventions with integrated clinical services and referrals, and structural components to comprehensively address the needs of female sex workers. Services at MULU facilities ranged from peer education and HIV counseling and testing, screening and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STI), routine screening for gender-based violence, to condom provision and dual-protection promotion.