Bolivia – must develop a strategy of prevention with male sex workers and the use of the Internet

malesexworkerWith the advent of the Internet, we were now able to reach a world of new possibilities. Later, we thought that the Internet had given us everything, but then social networks were born. They opened the doors to an endless number of opportunities, and gave rise to the development of many others. Among them, sex work.

With the development of social networks, blogs and web pages, male sex work underwent significant changes, prompting the formation of a variety of virtual agencies, and a huge number of independent sex workers.

Having these new tools, male sex workers have now instant access to more and better business opportunities. However, these technologies and their wide use, have not been used yet by the Governments and members of civil society, since they can help reach more people in order to deliver a message of prevention, and the correct use of the condoms.

Nowadays, we can find around 100 up to 250 press advertisements per day offering sexual services in one of the country’s best-selling newspapers, 40% of which are published by male sex workers. However, this pales in comparison to the amount of virtual ads in websites such as “Mundo Anuncio’’, “Anuncios Bolivia’’, and “Bolivia Servis’’, among others. As well as in Facebook and WhatsApp groups, which are updated on a daily basis and without any filter or control.

“Since I have Facebook and WhatsApp I’ve got more customers, with the newspaper only local people contacted me, but now on the net, I get in touch with foreigners and richer guys”. Said Darcko, stripper and sex worker from Santa Cruz.

In an interview, a sex worker from La Paz said: “… Once I was called and asked to go to a workshop where I would meet with other escorts, and with the manager of a gay foundation here in La Paz, but I didn’t attend, ‘cause it seemed kind of indiscreet to gather all of us in the same place. I think it was right though, because we need information, but I need to watch my reputation, I don’t want everybody to know that I’m a sex worker. That’s why I work by my own”.

Most of male sex workers don’t attend information centers or access to the services of LGBT organizations, since their occupation requires to protect their identity.

Government authorities in the area of health, and organizations working in prevention should join efforts to consolidate a work plan with sex workers and to carry out activities in a framework of confidentiality and respect.

Bolivia requires more and better strategies to stop the spread of the epidemic. The use of new information and communication technologies should not be left aside.