Prostitution and the military: planning AIDS intervention in Belize.

Kane SC
Social Science and Medicine. 1993 Apr; 36(7):965-79.

With regard to HIV and AIDS, Belize is a pattern I country with a seemingly low incidence of infection and disease. The author considers the social interaction in the country between British soldiers and sex workers with a view to the potential for HIV transmission from the foreign male military to female civilian population. 1988 data indicated the presence of a total 1600 male British Defense Force Troops in Belize to defend the country from attack by Guatemala, who had antagonistical territorial claims. These men come from the British Isles, colonial territories, and independent allies harboring known epicenters of the AIDS pandemic. 900 of the 1600 troops stay in Belize for six-month periods after which they are replaced with fresh soldiers. They are young, sexually-active, trained to take risks, and have regular incomes. The military and sex workers in Belize interact through recognized prostitution in health-regulated brothels and quasi-prostitution in non-health regulated public sites like bars and hotels. These forms are distinguished by the ethnicity, national origin, and professional identity of sex workers. The author used survey and participant observation combined with cross-cultural data on condom use to determine that the social identity of sex workers is crucial in understanding how public health information is incorporated by heterosexuals who put themselves at risk for HIV in different social contexts. The scope of analysis shifts between the personal and transnational, and includes discussion of the possibilities for intergovernmental negotiations on AIDS policy.

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