Africa Asia Middle East عربي Français free subscription IRIN Site Map RSS find PlusNews on facebook follow PlusNews on twitter
Global HIV/AIDS news and analysis
Advanced search
 Tuesday 15 February 2011
Weekly reports 
In-Depth reports 
Country profiles 
Fact files 
Most read 
Print report Share |
SOUTH AFRICA: Research shows World Cup did not fuel sex work or HIV

Photo: Manoocher Deghati/IRIN
Initial research shows that the 2010 World Cup is unlikely to have fuelled increases in the sex trade or HIV infections in South Africa
JOHANNESBURG, 22 October 2010 (PlusNews) - The South African sex work industry has released a new report that has shown the country's recent soccer World Cup did not fuel a rise in sex work - and that thousands of dollars may have been wasted on ill-tailored HIV prevention campaigns.

New research by the South Africa’s Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) and partners such as the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has shown that sex work was unlikely to have fuelled any rise in HIV infections during South Africa’s recent month-long World Cup, contrary to expectations.

The first study to examine the affects of a soccer World Cup on the sex trade in a host country, the research surveyed female sex workers who advertised their services in print or online and found that while slightly more sex workers were advertising, these women reported no significant increase in clients. Reported condom use among respondents was about 99 percent, according to the research.

SWEAT also announced that it found no evidence of human trafficking, supporting similar claims by the South African Department of Justice, and that the proportion of non-South African sex workers advertising actually dropped.

Read more on the 2010 World Cup
World Cup poses risks for out-of-school kids
World Cup HIV prevention plans fall short
World Cup HIV campaigns
World Cup kicks off camps for kids
Safer sex for soccer fans and sex workers
Straight Talk with FIFA's Social Responsibility Head
In the months leading up to the World Cup, what SWEAT called “media sensationalism” predicted as many as 100,000 sex workers would flood South Africa to cater to visiting tourists, and that unsafe sex among sex workers and clients could fuel a rise in HIV infections. In particular, predictions were made that women and children would be trafficked into the host cities as part of the sex trade, and that the country - with an HIV prevalence rate of about 19 percent - would experience condom shortages.

For its part, SWEAT increased its own safe-sex campaigns almost threefold during the World Cup through a massive distribution of male and female condoms, and safer sex workshops and the establishment of a telephone help-line for sex workers.

Lots of money, wrong direction

But according to a statement released by SWEAT and UNFPA, the research findings may mean public fears, not evidence, drove many of the HIV-prevention programmes aimed at sex workers and potential clients during the month-long international event.

“In response to this media frenzy and public fears, a number of national and international health, gender and development agencies invested substantial funds in the distribution of free male condoms, generalized HIV/AIDS information campaigns for South Africans and visitors, and rolling out anti-trafficking campaigns,” said the statement. “Yet, none of these investments were based on rigorous research or inquiry and could have been better employed if done in a targeted manner.”

Head researcher Marlise Richter told IRIN/PlusNews the money spent on this kind of programming could have been better allocated towards protecting sex workers from increased human rights abuses during the Cup, such as harassment, violence and sexual bribery at the hands of law enforcement officers.

The organizations, who also critiqued the lack of female condom distribution as part of World Cup HIV prevention measures, said they hoped the research would help inform future HIV programming around international events like the 2010 World Cup.

“Future campaigns and programmes that focus on sex work, trafficking and international sporting events should be based on systematic research - not sensationalism that leads to further stigmatization and discrimination against sex workers while increasing their vulnerability to violence,” said the organizations in a written statement.

SWEAT is due to release a follow-up report in Johannesburg at the end of November that examines the World Cup’s effects on street-based sex work.


Theme(s): (PLUSNEWS) Gender Issues, (PLUSNEWS) HIV/AIDS (PlusNews), (PLUSNEWS) Media - PlusNews, (PLUSNEWS) Prevention - PlusNews


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
Print report Share |
FREE Subscriptions
Your e-mail address:

Submit your request
 More on South Africa
HIV/AIDS: IRIN/PlusNews weekly news and analysis round-up Issue 523 for 11 February 2011
SOUTH AFRICA: No ARVs in 'whoonga', say experts
AFRICA: Need for systematic HIV drug resistance testing
SOUTH AFRICA: HIV testing in schools is a minefield
HIV/AIDS: IRIN/PlusNews weekly news and analysis round-up Issue 522 for 4 February 2011
 More on Gender Issues
UGANDA: Can "love wheel" stop infidelity in marriage?
TANZANIA: Male circumcision campaign targets 2.8 million
KENYA: Fidelity campaigns could take years to see results
UGANDA: Murder of gay activist "needs urgent investigation"
KENYA: Caring for the care-givers
 Most Read 
ZIMBABWE: Lessons in HIV prevention
HIV/AIDS: IRIN/PlusNews weekly news and analysis round-up Issue 523 for 11 February 2011
Back | Home page

Services:  Africa | Asia | Middle East | Film & TV | Photo | Radio | Live news map | E-mail subscription
Feedback · IRIN Terms & Conditions · Really Simple Syndication News Feeds · About PlusNews · Jobs · Donors

Copyright © IRIN 2011
This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States. Republication is subject to terms and conditions as set out in the IRIN copyright page.