ZIMBABWE – AT least 20% of sex workers are HIV positive with calls being made to include this key sector in the country HIV and AIDS programming.
This was revealed by the Centre for Sexual Health and HIV AIDS Research at a Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights HIV media forum in Harare Monday.
Sibongile Mtetwa of the Sexual Health rights lobby group said if not included in the national HIV programming, sex workers would continue to spread the virus.
â€œAccording to the statistics we have from 2009 up to 2015, there are 52,214 sex workers throughout the country, she said.
26,090 of them have tested for Sexually Transmitted Infections TIs, and 10,922 have tested positive for HIV.
“There are 4,060 who have been referred for further HIV management.”
Sex workers, homosexuals and prisoners have been identified as among the most affected.
Prostitution is illegal in Zimbabwe and stakeholders in the health sector say this has led to the discrimination of sex workers by health workers.
Asked whether they recognise these key populations in the national AIDS programming, National AIDS Council Key population officer Tendai Mhaka said work is in progress to include sex workers in their projects.
Just like the press releases we receive from GALZ, we want to know what is happening in their community because they are important stakeholders in the Health sector, she responded.
We have been very courageous to take this on board because we know that these key groups are there and by ignoring them we will be doing a disservice to the nation.
Recently, the minister of health and child care Dr David Parirenyatwa said government was going to engage key populations in HIV and AIDS programming.