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NAC engages sex workers in Beitbridge

Story by Providence Maraneli

THE National Aids Council of Zimbabwe has reached out to commercial sex workers in Beitbridge to consolidate the gains achieved in the fight against HIV prevalence.

For a long time commercial sex workers have been accused of being the superspreaders of the deadly HIV because of their profession.

In the populous border town of Beitbridge, infamous fights over truck inns and nightclub spots had become the order of the day but the coming in of the National AIDS Council and its development partners to train and offer other empowerment skills to sex workers has offered relief to residents.

For Precious Muwanzi who is lucky not to have contracted the virus despite being in the trade for a long time NAC’s empowerment skills and training were life-changing.

“My husband died and I was pushed into the trade because of circumstances, as I was going around in the truck inn one day I met the NAC officers and they spoke to me about the need to have skills and they tested me and fortunately I was still negative,” she said.

“We have become ambassadors, preaching the gospel of the need to take PREP and PEP and ARVs so that we reduce the spread of HIV in the country. I have been empowered and I now have my own business all thanks to NAC,” said another retired sex worker.

NAC and its partner CEISHAR have established a drop-in house in Beitbridge to provide clinical services to victims of gender-based violence and commercial sex workers.

“We are providing clinical services and prevention services and we chose this district because of its numbers and because of it being a transit town, the statistics in terms of prevalence and occurrence were high and we are happy that we have made a difference,” said CEISHAR Beitbridge Outreach officer, Mr Tonderai Rupia.

“We have a lot of organisations that we are working with, we have realised that we have other female sex workers who are young who still need to go to school so we have engaged organisations who can facilitate that.

“We have engaged Red Cross to have others do nurse aid courses so that they are empowered. Some are now going to JMN Poly to do short courses. We are not promoting commercial sex work but we are trying to reduce the occurrence and prevalence and we have managed that,” said Beitbridge District Aids Coordinator, Mr Edward Mulaudzi.

The HIV prevalence rate has dropped from 21% to 11% in the Beitbridge district.

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