‘Schoolgirls Are Fuelling New HIV Infections’ -National Aids Council (Nac)

The National Aids Council (Nac) has said staying alone in private lodgings at Murambinda Growth Point are fuelling prostitution in the area, as new HIV and Aids infections increase among adolescents.

Nac district Aids coordinator for Buhera, Devious Sengamai said the children were being taken advantage of by older men.

“Mostly, we have adult sex workers but we have a significant number of children in the sector who are mainly schoolgirls staying alone in illegal accommodation.

“The girls find private lodgings to stay closer to school but are unfortunately then taken advantage of by truck drivers and commuter omnibus drivers and conductors,” Sengamai said.

Nac monitoring and evaluation director Amon Mpofu recently told journalists at an HIV and Aids intervention workshop that adolescent commercial sex workers are at a higher risk of contracting the immune suppressing disease.

“We are currently having a fall in HIV incidences among older sex workers but it’s rising among younger ones.

“This is probably because it’s more difficult for the young girls to negotiate for safer sex. Generally, young people are also registering most of the new infections,” Mpofu said.

He added, “New infections are being driven by adolescents.”

Meanwhile, there is a huge change in the demography of commercial sex workers at Murambinda Growth Point, infamous for its sex merchants and endless night partying.

Nac has observed a fall in the number of local sex workers due to a decade-long sustained empowerment drive with the majority now coming from outside the district.

“Locals are now mainly pursuing other income generating activities and the commercial sex workers we now have are mostly from surrounding areas like Hwedza and Rusape but we have some coming from as far afield as Chitungwiza,” Sengamai said.

Southern Africa Aids Information and Dissemination Services (Safaids) training and advocacy programme coordinator Adolf Mavheneke said, while this can be lauded as an indicator of behaviour change among locals, there was need to guard against making the fight against HIV a moral issue.

“The change should be celebrated, of course, but that should not be seen as a celebration for a moral victory in an effort to contain the HIV and Aids epidemic.

“Sex work is work like any other. For us to win it, we don’t need to moralise but just focus on ensuring that the infection is contained and managed,” Mavheneke said.

Source: dailynews

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