Author: O'Brien, Nadia Christine
Empowerment has gained prominence in the field of public health as creating enabling environments is increasingly being conceptualized as fundamental to marginalized populations’ ability to enact public health messages. Yet empowerment’s application requires further investigation in order to comprehend how successful strategies can be applied in future contexts. Ashodaya Samithi, a sex worker collective in India produced positive health advances through empowerment processes. It has reported a reduction in sexually transmitted infections and increased condom use. As the HIV prevalence rate in India is 0.36 percent, and 11 percent to 90 percent amongst sex workers, their engagement in HIV prevention is instrumental. However, sex worker interventions have been widely criticized for their stigmatizing influence and ineffectiveness. Qualitative research with the Ashodaya collective demonstrates the promise empowerment-based projects hold for subverting vulnerabilities, transforming risk, and preventing the spread of HIV.
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