Thandeka Moyo, Health Reporter
THE Ministry of Health and Child Care estimates that there are about 44 586 sex workers in the country aged between 15 and 49 years and nearly 7 000 of them operate in Bulawayo.
According to the recently released HIV and Aids Estimates Report, the figure excludes people who have transactional sex and male sex workers. The figure only caters for those aged between 15 and 49.
The HIV prevalence rate for the sex workers stands at an average of 55 percent, compared to the 13 percent national average.
“The size estimation for female sex workers was done in Bulawayo, Harare, Shamva and Mazowe using multiple methods. In Harare the number of female sex workers is estimated to be 12 800 and 6 800 in Bulawayo,” reads the statement.
“At Shamva growth point, the estimate is 400 female sex workers and across Mazowe district the figure also stands at 400.”
The statement adds: “HIV prevalence among female sex workers varies by site with small towns having the highest HIV prevalence. In Harare the prevalence stands at 54.4 percent, Bulawayo has 54.2 while Mazowe and Shamva recorded 59.2 percent and 54.8 percent respectively.”
Launching the Estimates last week, Dr Owen Mugurungi who heads the HIV and TB department in the Health Ministry extended gratitude to partners who helped to compile the report.
“This estimates report is intended to assist planners in understanding the effects of funding levels and allocation patterns on programme impact. It also helps understand how funding levels and patterns can lead to reductions in HIV incidence and prevalence and improved coverage of treatment, care and support programmes,” said Dr Mugurungi.
Approximately 25 900 people died of Aids related causes in 2016 translating to 71 deaths per day. This is a decrease from 278 deaths per day that were recorded in 2005.The same report shows that 14 out of every 100 people are HIV infected in Zimbabwe.
A Parliamentarian recently said Zimbabwe may not win the fight to end HIV and Aids by 2030 if it continues to ignore key populations who include sex workers and prisoners whose HIV prevalence is way above the national average of 13 percent.
Key populations identified by the World Health Organisation also include the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI), those who abuse drugs and women.
In an interview, Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care chairperson Dr Ruth Labode said ignoring the existence of key populations in Zimbabwe may reverse the gains made towards combating HIV and Aids.People who belong to key affected populations are more vulnerable to HIV infection.—@thamamoe