By Kenias Chivuzhe
The National AIDS Council (NAC) has upscaled measures to reduce HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections in the Mutare and Makoni districts, through working with sex workers in its intervention programmes.
“As a province, the prevalence rate is at 10.2 percent, Makoni is the highest in the province standing at 11.6 followed by Mutare at 11. In trying to achieving 95 95 95 targets and end AIDS by 2030, we are therefore targeting key populations that include sex workers,” said NAC acting provincial manager, Simbarashe Maquina.
A health facility has since been established near Forbes Border Post to attend to sex workers frequenting the area where there are worrying statistics of sexually transmitted infections.
Ceshhar Forbes Clinic Site Manager, Beauty Dhliwayo said, “When we started, we were assisting 100 sex workers, but now at least 400 are coming to the clinic on a monthly basis. Of the 400 that we see every month, those that receive HTS services are 100 and those who receive STI services are 80.”
An engagement process with sex workers has also been set in motion.
Said Buhera district AIDS Coordinator, Belinda Takawira, “The HIV incidents for females and males in Buhera district as at 2021 was 0.23 for females and 0.16 for males, which means the prevalence for females is almost double that of males. The sex worker programme helps to reduce cases of infections.”
“Our programme has self-help programme so that they don’t do unprotected sex to have money. We want them to be self-sustainable,” Forbes Clinic nurse, Ruth Katanda noted.
“I work with sex workers and I track new ones and those that have been in the business. I record them for them to receive required services. If one is on high risk, I monitor her many times and encourage them to use condoms and if they are on ART, I encourage them to take their pills. The programme has been very helpful,” said Tafadzwa Dhinga, a micro planner.
The programme comes at a time when 87 percent of Manicaland province’s HIV positive population is on anti-retroviral therapy (ART).