By Alex P. Vidal
LOS ANGELES, California — Now that other advanced countries have begun to seriously address and curb the problem on the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV virus owing to unregulated and unsafe sex industry, the Philippines and other third world countries could learn from the method recently initiated by Switzerland.
Beginning next year, sex workers in Zurich, the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zurich, will be able to conduct business in drive-in sex booths in a move that officials in the Swiss city hope will help make the sex industry safer and more regulated.
Earlier this year, voters in Zurich passed a referendum to approve construction of the sex booths on the outskirts of the city, which will provide private accommodations for approximately 30 prostitutes and their customers, according to a report made by Alyssa Newcomb for ABC News.
According to the recent Philippine Data Fact Sheet on HIV, AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Disease, sexual contact was the most common mode of transmission, accounting for 9 out of 10 infections. Eighty three percent of cases were among males; for each 10 cases, eight belonged to the 20-39 age group.
Of the 799 HIV positive cases in 2012, 30 were reported as AIDS cases — 29 were males,one female.
Sexually transmitted infections are also reportedly the main preventable cause of infertility, particularly in women; and some infections exist without symptoms. International data showed that 448 million new infections of curable sexually transmitted infections occur yearly.
In pregnant women with untreated early syphilis, 25 percent of pregnancies result in stillbirth, while 14 percent in neonatal death. HIV and syphilis can also be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy and childbirth, and through blood products and tissue transfer.
Quoting a news release on the Zurich Social Welfare Department’s website, Newcomb stressed that when the booths open in August 2012, prostitution will be banned in certain parts of the city and confined to the booths and two other zones.
“The big difference is that until now prostitution is in a public space,” Michael Herzig, spokesperson for the department, told World Radio Switzerland. “Now we are going to change this, transfer it from the street, from a public to a private space to an old industrial area which belongs to the city, that give us the possibility to define the rules of prostitution in this space.”
Newcomb said the booths will be outfitted with parking spaces, alarm buttons and an on-site counselor, English language Swiss news site The Local reported last year when the publicly funded measure was being discussed.
Beginning in January, sex workers will also have to apply for a license, register with a health insurer and purchase a ticket each night for approximately $5 before they begin soliciting customers, she added. Officials from the Social Welfare Department said the plan is “progressing” and ready to enter into full-force in the new year.