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Shapla Mohila Sangstha (SMS), Bangladesh

Shapla Mohila Sangstha

SMS is a leading HIV & AIDS organization within Faridpur in Bangladesh. SMS aims to reach about 600 sex workers and their children, focusing on HIV/STI prevention and awareness, empowerment of sex workers including group formation, cultural group formation and advocacy on behalf of sex workers children to ensure they gain admittance to government schools. In addition, SMS runs a small day-care centre for children of sex workers and provide education, skills training and recreational facilities. SMS has expanded its activities to include marginalised and poor Hindu communities in slum areas and has begun a programme of awareness work with students and youth groups, focusing especially on female students.

While SMS believes it has already made a significant contribution to changing attitudes among local government officials and local NGOs about sex workers, marginalized people and HIV, they still face challenges in tackling discrimination and stigma in the wider community. To meet this challenge, SMS is looking to expand its programs, mainstream HIV/AIDS into all its work and develop even stronger advocacy/rights-based approaches.