NSANJE--Authorities in Nsanje want to reduce the number of sex workers in the district by 10 percent by 2013 in a bid to reduce HIV transmission and improve the quality of life for both the infected and affected population.
Acting District AIDS Coordinator for Nsanje, Strachan Chisenga, told the Malawi News Agency that his office was working with the National AIDS Commission, Medicine san Frontiers and Bridge II Project to change the lives of sex workers.
“Sex workers are just one arm of major players in activities that encourage the spread of HIV and AIDS. Engaging them in our activities will therefore assist them to be assertive enough thereby demanding for services like condoms and HIV Testing and Counseling (HTC), which are important in their daily activities,” said Chisenga.
He revealed that through Tinyade Sex Workers’ Group, the district will achieve the goal by 2013, explaining that the DAC office will incorporate their needs into district’s HIV and AIDS implementation plan.
Chisenga said his office intends to train sex workers in sexual reproductive health so that they assist in fighting premarital sex and child prostitution, “some people engage in the malpractice because they are ignorant of the dangers of prostitution, training them on the negative impacts of the practice will transform the workers into being behavioral change counselors,” he said.
The acting District AIDS Coordinator emphasized that they were planning to involve sex workers in small scale businesses so that they become economically empowered.
“We want to link the members to different organizations that will help them with village saving loans so that they generate enough money without being involved in sexual intercourse. This will finally assist us to have a free sex worker society in years to come,” he said.
He said sporting activities will aid them to associate with outside world thereby admiring the rest of the community members by among other ways finding settled partners for marriage.
Chisenga, then pleaded with Tinyade Sex Workers’ Group to integrate men in their group so that they too can be reached with various messages aimed at reducing HIV and AIDS prevalence rate in the district.
A member of Tinyade Sex Workers’ Group, Patricia Ross, alluded to the fact that their relationship with DAC office was slowly turning them into responsible beings.
Ross, who is also proprietor of Aunt Pat Bottle Store, said their interaction with the office was important because it transformed her business into a success by attracting more accountable customers than before.
“Quantity and quality of sex workers at a bar determines the number of customers one has, this means that once we have favourable conditions for sex workers and customers (in a bar), then we will sale more,” said Ross who has been in the business for more than a decade.
Nsanje district has an HIV prevalence rate of 14 percent.