Sex workers have a right to equal access to HIV AIDS medication, the Zimbabwe Aids Network Zimbabwe National Coordinator, Taurai Nyandoro has said.
The Zimbabwe Aids Network is currently leading more than 250 organisations in the country and offers HIV and AIDS services. Their main global objective is to end HIV AIDS by 2030.
Zimbabwe Aids Network raised concerns on HIV AIDS medical accessibility for sex workers in the country, ending discrimination of sex workers as well as the negative attitude of health workers headed for sex workers.
“There is need to increase, provision of medication, access to updated HIV AIDS information knowledge and also provide information in other languages, in braille as well as sign language. This is also a way of targeting key populations,” Nyandoro said .
He went on to say that Zimbabwe being a signatory of conventions such as the Abuja declaration which was signed by many African states in April 2001, which saw each country pledge at least 15% of its national budget towards health sector, seems to be failing to honour the pledges of the declaration.
The AIDS Network appealed for serious commitment and reasonable allocation of at least 15 percent of the national budget towards health.
“We have hope towards the improvement of our health sector since President Emmerson Mnangangwa signed the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, which have health provision on Chapter 9, article 27 part 10 which talks of preventing the spread and combating the impact of diseases such as Malaria , Tuberculosis ,HIV/AIDS ,Ebola, fever, and Avian Flu,” Nyandoro said .
There is need to mobilise domestic resources towards the fight against HIV and AIDS through the Aids levy which on the other side is too short of what the country needs to fight the disease.
“In terms of duty taxation, we feel it is better for the Government to tax commodities such as Alcohol and put the fund toward health medication and facilities,” he added.
One experienced sex worker who identified herself as Makanaka from Hopely said that they face discrimination in clinics when they go to collect their HIV and AIDS medication, even for STIs treatment.
“We are not happy with the kind of language used by nurses while addressing us when we collect our medication. Sometimes it drives away our clients because nurses shout loudly at us and at the end it draws attention of many people around. We become shy and try to hide our faces so that we will not be seen or noticed by other people who will be at the clinic,” Makanaka said.
She expressed dissatisfaction with the type of cards they are given at the clinics when they collect medication.
“I carry a red card for HIV and AIDS tablets collection. We want government to do something about it because we feel discriminated. Being identified as red cards patients for HIV and AIDS infected makes me feel segregated and uncomfortable all the time I go for medication collection.
“We are also human. Being a sex workers is not a crime. We need equal access to medication. I am a bread winner and have kids to look after. Commercial sex work it is just like any other profession,” she added.
She added that commercial sex work is just everywhere (even in matrimonial homes).
“It’s just that people have a biased eye on who a commercial sex work is. In homes, even those married women who deliver sex after being bought 100% Peruvian hairs or manicure, and those men who buy materials things to please their wives and to get good sex are commercial sex workers so there is need to treat us like humans beings,” she said.