About 60% of South Africa’s estimated 150 000 sex workers are HIV positive.
The statistics were announced by the South African National Aids Council (Sanac) at the launch of a national HIV/Aids programme for sex workers in Johannesburg yesterday, The New Age reported.
“How can you talk about HIV prevention and not talk about sex work, knowing that HIV transmission involves sex?” Sanac chief executive Fareed Abdullah was quoted as saying at the launch.
Sex workers, their “non-commercial partners” and their clients accounted for between 6% and 11% of all new infections in South Africa.
These “concerning” figures pushed Sanac and its partners to develop a programme aimed at fighting HIV/Aids in the sex worker industry, the publication reported.
“The programme also aimed at ensuring access to state social and health services where sex workers can receive HIV counselling and testing, treatment and contraception,” Abdullah said.
The national coordinator of sex workers’ movement Sisonke, Kholi Buthelezi, said it was the duty of all sex workers to ensure the programme was successful.
“We want to use condoms but sometimes our clients refuse,” she said.