© Quentin Top



prevalence of HIV in adults


level of HIV infection among sex workers


estimated number of new HIV infections in 15-19-year-olds

The situation in Ethiopia

Of Ethiopia’s nine regions, Afar is particularly susceptible to natural and human-made disasters, such as flooding, drought, intercommunity conflicts and epidemics.


Sex workers subjected to gender-based violence


In Ethiopia, VIHinfo-icon disproportionately affects certain groups, especially sex workers, 23% of whom are HIV positive (EPH 2014). They are among those most at risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections, being subjected to violence and being excluded from social services. Despite this, there are no reliable official data on the numbers of sex workers in Ethiopia, nor on how many of them have experienced gender-based violence (GBV).

An alarming level of gender-based violence is perpetrated against prostitutes

The exploratory mission undertaken by Médecins du Monde along the commercial route from Addis Ababa to Djibouti in 2017 highlighted an alarming level of GBV perpetrated against sex workers. In addition, the lack of GBV prevention services and care and treatment for survivors means access to healthcare and rights is extremely difficult for this group. As a result, MdM decided to work with sex workers along the route between Addis Ababa and Djibouti, focusing on the Afar region.


In Ethiopie, all women of the Afar people undergo extreme genital mutilation © DR
In Ethiopie, all women of the Afar people undergo extreme genital mutilation © DR

Our activities in Ethiopia

Promoting access to healthcare and rights for sex workers

In October 2018, Médecins du Monde started to implement a programme in partnership with Nikat Association (an Ethiopian community-based organisation of sex workers) and other institutional partners, such as the Regional Health Bureau (RHB) and the Women’s Affairs Bureau. The programme began by recruiting 18 women as peer educators and training them to lead awareness-raising sessions for prostitutes on GBV, HIV prevention and condom use.

Medical interventions are delivered by MdM partner, the Family Guidance Association of Ethiopia (FGAE).



We also support a number of health centres, as well as clinics specifically for prostitutes, with the aim of improving medical, social and psychosocial care, particularly for those who have experienced violence.


In 2019


  • enrolled 1,670 sex workers on the programme
  • trained 12 peer educators
  • conducted 210 education and awareness-raising sessions, reaching 847 sex workers
  • distributed 75,152 condoms


our institutional support

L'Organisation mondiale de la santé soutient Médecins du Monde
Le ministère des Affaires étrangères allemand (AAHH) soutient Médecins du Monde
Support for primary healthcare in the Afar region, in the district of Dubti. Programme closed in 2000.
Surgeon training programme opened in Addis Ababa and Aksum.
Primary healthcare intervention in the Somali region. Programme closed in 2011.
Programme launched to combat genital mutilation.
Programme of support for Eritrean refugees.
One-off response to a cholera outbreak in several districts in Afar region.
Emergency cholera response and launch of sex worker programme along the route between Addis Ababa and Djibouti.

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