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Sex workers business quite risky

Recreation Section

By Hlengiwe Ndlovu - SWAZI OBSERVER-06-Oct-2009

SEX workers face multiple risks and challenges whilst plying their trade, including HIV transmission, and are often unable to control such because of their social related vulnerabilities.

To be in a position to better address the pertinent issues related to commercial sex work, the United Nations is hosting about 40 prevention advisers and focal people from the UN system from different SADC countries to a consultation on the “prevention of HIV in the context of sex work”. The three day inter-agency consultation was officially opened by Minister of Health Benedict Xaba at Esibayeni Lodge yesterday.

Information gathered is that sex work networks have also been invited to the consultation. Making his remarks on the official opening ceremony, Xaba registered his concern with the general unavailability of data on the extent of sex work in Swaziland and the prevalence of HIV amongst them.

He quickly added that the unavailability of data may be partly because of the illicit and underground nature of the trade. He recalled that in 2007, the country conducted a rapid assessment on sex workers, and that findings showed that 77% of the respondents had been diagnosed with Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and that 67% of them had not sought for any treatment.

It is against this backdrop that the minister said the meeting would have failed on its purpose if it were not to articulate these issues with a view of guiding countries in the region on the cost effective and evidence based interventions to address HIV prevention, treatment, care and support targeting commercial sex workers.

The minister, however, alluded to that with the illicit nature of commercial sex work, there are challenges in as far as implementing programmes to the challenges faced by sex workers is concerned. He observed that there is usually lack of funding for the programme and difficulties in reaching the sex workers’ clients since their operations are largely underground.

‘They should have unlimited access to health services’


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