Female Sex Workers Bemoan Discrimination in Accessing HIV/AIDS Services
The Female Sex Workers Association (FSWA) has bemoaned continued discrimination and exclusion of sex workers at all levels despite fighting for their participation in the formulation and implementation of HIV/AIDS interventions.
The Association’s Executive Director Zinenani Majawa told Zodiak Online that she believes the trend has an impact on increasing HIV prevalence rate among sex workers currently at 49%.
“Of course, over the years there has been a reduction in HIV prevalence among us from around 63% to 49% but the rate is still high and I believe we can do better with total inclusion in formulation and implementation of HIV/AIDS programs,” said Majawa.
National Aids Commission spokesperson Karen Msiska conveys economic vulnerability, inability to negotiate consistent use of condoms, violence, abuse and criminalization and marginalization of sex work put female sex workers at risk of contracting HIV.
“FSWs are targeted as key populations and have technical working groups that meet quarterly to assess the state of HIV/AIDS response and issues that affect them and appropriate response initiatives are also discussed and agreed during these meetings,” said Msiska.
Meanwhile, Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) Executive Director Michael Kaiyatsa says effective implementation of the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Management Act will assist sex workers to access HIV/AIDS services without facing any stigma or discrimination.
“It is sad that despite having this law, stigma and discrimination amongst minority groups including men who have sex with fellow men continue and the two undermine efforts to reduce HIV prevalence among key populations,” said Kaiyatsa.
The Female Sex Workers Association says has a membership of over 20, 000.