John Mathenge of the Kenyan Sex Workers Alliance speaks up in New York
Marchers in New York called on donors at the UN High Level Meeting on AIDS to keep their promises and finance the HIV response.
"29-year-old John Mathenge, a Kenyan sex worker and country coordinator of the Kenyan Sex Workers Alliance, said he came to the UN so that the voice of the male, female, and transgender sex workers could be heard. As a sex worker, as with the many sex workers who are barred from entry into the US, he detailed the difficulties he had to obtain an entry visa into the US. He said he appealed to the US embassy using the provisions of President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), initiated by former president George Bush.
Mathenge, who is a member of the Kikuyu tribe, said that among his people being gay could get him killed. He said he is HIV negative because for the 18 years since he was in the sex trade, he has consistently used protection, considering himself one of the lucky not to have contracted the virus. He added, 'Many people think that sex workers are criminals, but we are the ones at the front of the HIV epidemic. I expect the G8 and European Union to put more money to fight HIV/AIDS and not for wars.'"