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Timika is a small dishevelled city in the frontier province of Papua, Indonesia. The region struggles with high levels of poverty.
Many families rely entirely on fishing or other agrarian sources for income. Jobs are often scarce and opportunities few. With so few opportunities and viable options, some young women turn to sex work for money. She now lives and works in one of the brothels just outside Timika. Dewi says most of her clients are truckers, miners and military men from the surrounding villages. Dewi shows off her room — a cramped area with barely enough space for a thread-bare mattress. Indonesia is only one of nine countries in the world where the infection rate is rising, and sex work is particularly dangerous in Papua.
Latest figures show that while the national Indonesian HIV-infection rate is 0. The report shows that although new HIV infections are falling overall, they are rising among at-risk adolescents. There were an estimated 50, new HIV infections among adolescents aged in , accounting for 15 per cent of new infections. There are now around , adolescents living with HIV in the region, with 15, new infections in Indonesia last year alone.
Timika is severely affected by this epidemic. It is a hub for sex workers — a key at-risk group for contracting HIV. Brothels with high turnovers are of particular concern for spreading the disease, and it is a risk Dewi is aware of on a daily basis. The walls are covered in posters cautioning visitors on the threat of HIV and advice on how to prevent it. Contraception is promoted and provided, free of charge. The clinic also conducts regular HIV tests.
Pak Jerry has been working on HIV prevention for some time and despite the difficulties he remains optimistic. Things are changing. These are vital first steps in ending the epidemic, he says. This assists adolescents gain knowledge and access services to protect them against the transmission of HIV.