Dramatic rise in prostitution, diseases, among illegal migrants

A dramatic rise in prostitution by young foreign women in central Athens and 10 other areas in Attica prefecture, as well as an increase in an aggressive form of tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS and hepatitis C and B have been recorded by the health ministry, which is stepping up its collaboration with other authoritative ministries, agencies and international organisations to deal with the problem, health and social solidarity deputy minister Michalis Timosidis told a parliamentary inter-party committee on migration on Tuesday.
He said an important tool in the effort to stem the problem was the "Street Work" Programme launched by staff of the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO).
Timosidis explained that, under the programme, specialised KEELPNO staff were visiting central parts of the city frequented by illegal migrants.
He said the staff appeared to be earning the confidence of the migrants, as an increasing number are visiting the Street Work programmes to be informed on the health problems they face, without fear of deportation. Thus KEELPNO, in collaboration with NGOs, was recording the most frequent diseases and providing the initial health services to the migrants.
"Hundreds of drug addicts, and chiefly prostitutes of a young age, come out in the area of Omonia Square as soon as it starts to get dark, and this problem is a central issue for us," Timosidis said, adding that the ministry also intensifying its cooperation with the City of Athens and the Periphery in order to seek solutions, and was also working closely with the other ministries concerned.

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