HIV ravaged the African continent faster and earlier than any other in the world, spreading primarily through unprotected heterosexual sex. Kaolack, Senegal is a town where travellers and prostitutes converge, and HIV transmission rates have soared, especially among the prostitutes. Going beyond empirical analysis of risk/behaviour data, Women at the Crossroads tells the stories of these women in their own words.
The women portrayed keep their profession a secret from their families and friends, but abide by Senegalese law which states that prostitution is legal for those who register with the police and undergo bi-monthly health examinations. By observing one clinic's successful AIDS education campaign, anthropologist Michelle Renaud demonstrates that information presented in a culturally appropriate manner can, in fact, achieve the difficult goal of behaviour change. Although these women claim to be trapped by the social and political forces that have led them to enter prostitution, Renaud argues that they have taken control of their destinies in an inspiring fashion.