Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
(AIDS) is a term which applies to the most advanced stages of HIV infection, which can take from 2 to 15 years to develop, depending upon the resilience of the individual. AIDS is defined by the development of certain infections, cancers, or other severe clinical symptoms.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) invades cells of the immune system, impairing or destroying their function. However, many people are not aware of their status until the disease progresses to later stages in its development.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus
The virus can be transmitted through the exchange of a various of body fluids from people who are infected with the virus. Bodily fluids such as semen and vaginal secretions, blood, breast milk and saliva can transmit the virus. Ordinary day-to-day contact such as shaking hands, hugging, kissing or sharing personal objects, water or food cannot transmit the virus.
Infection with HIV results in a progressive decline of the body’s immune function, leading to “immune deficiency.” The immune system is compromised when it can no longer fulfil its role of warding off the virus and the disease. The diagnosis of HIV is usually confirmed through blood tests detecting the presence of HIV antibodies.
Today, nearly 5 million people are living with HIV in South-East Asia. 160,000 of these people are children younger than 15 years.
There is no known cure for HIV infection, but antiretroviral drugs can be an effective treatment and bring the virus under control.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Trafficked victims are often subjected to cruel mental, emotional and physical abuse as a means to keep them in servitude. The cruel abuse includes beating, rape, exposure, forced drug use, starvation, confinement, terrorism and seclusion. Victims are often forced to have unprotected sex with large numbers of partners.
Trafficked victims are forced into a daily regime of servitude for long hours. Many victims are exposed to sexually-transmitted diseases and suffer mental break-downs, including HIV/AIDS. Often they are denied medical treatment and health care. Those who succumb become sick, sometimes even have their life terminated.
The fear of HIV infection and risk of AIDS among customers, drives traffickers to recruit young teenage females and girls, some, even as young as seven years of age. Customers erroneously perceive these young teenage females and girls to be too young to have been infected.
The majority of victims trafficked internationally are reportedly coming from Asia. Many women and children are trafficked to work in the commercial sex industry.
Asia remains a major source and destination region for victims of trafficking. The principle countries involved are China, Thailand, Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Burma, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Thailand is both a major source and destination country.