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Community engagement crucial to combating HIV in Ntabazinduna

Community engagement crucial to combating HIV in Ntabazinduna

Story by Bengani Ncube

ENGAGING key populations has been identified as key in interventions aimed at eliminating new HIV pre-infections in Ntabazinduna in the Matabeleland North Province.

The National AIDS Council District AIDS coordinator, Mr Mongiwabesuthu Ngwenya, said engaging key populations such as sex workers is critical because they are 30% at risk given the nature of their work.

The interventions help in teaching the female workers about the correct and consistent use of condoms, access to health services and Post post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).

Thembi Sithole, an HIV key population peer educator and facilitator, who is the provincial chairperson for the KVP programme, said she is involved in training other female sex workers so that they can impart knowledge to their peers.

The programme encourages them to seek testing services as well as champion the self-help clubs and programmes.

She also said it is important to educate them of their rights because at times times they are used and not paid.

She also said behavior change is key in practising safer sex that protects one from acquiring HIV as well as access and use of PEP, a sentiment echoed by another peer educator, Ms Nomsa Dube, who said they are working closely with other key stakeholders such as police and health centers.

Meanwhile, a sex worker, Nomsa Dube (not her real name), said NAC has equipped them with information to protect themselves and to visit the health centers in the event they feel at risk.

Most of the women who spoke to the ZBC News said they resorted to prostitution as a result of the economic challenges they are facing.

Some of the challenges involve being raped, but with the empowerment that they have got, they are now able to report to the police and advocate for the use of condoms.

The media is on a tour that was organised by the National AIDS Council to get an appreciation of HIV and AIDS interventions in the communities ahead of the World AIDS Day commemorations on the 1st of December, 2023 and the International Conference on AIDS & STIs in Africa which will run from the 4th to the 9th of December in Harare.

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