from OBERT SIAMILANDU in Kariba, Zimbabwe
KARIBA, (CAJ News) – SEX workers trading their bodies for fish is fuelling a rise in HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the resort town of Kariba.
This new, infamous trend is threatening targets by the Zimbabwean government to end AIDS by 2020.
The National AIDS Council (NAC) has expressed worry at the phenomenon that is rife at fishing camps dotted around the iconic Lake Kariba, a place famous for kapenta fishing.
Some of the fishing camps affected by the rising trend include Gache Gache, Muchenga, Musamba, Ndomo and Nyaodza.
Previously, prostitution was widespread in mining and farming communities.
Kariba is at the border with its northern neighbour, Zambia.
“As the country gears towards ending AIDS by 2030, we have some areas we need to address as areas driving HIV new infections,” Bernard Madzima, NAC Chief Executive Officer, said.
“There is a new phenomenon where sex workers now cohabit with male fishermen in exchange for fish. Where people cohabit, there is a high probability of unprotected sex happening,” he lamented.
The organisation has trained ten female peer sex workers and ten male peer fisher men to conduct HIV and AIDS peer education and condom distribution in Kariba.
The fisheries sector in Kariba is now treated as a hotspot for HIV.
“In an effort to address the key drivers of the epidemic, the country has scaled up interventions on social and behavioural change, condom promotion and distribution coupled with intensified awareness on correct and consistent use of condoms,” Madzima said.
Voluntary male circumcision, HIV testing services, prevention and control of STIs have been ramped up.
“These interventions were implemented as combination prevention services,” Madziam said.
Zimbabwe has set a target of 95-95-95, which translates to 95 percent of people living with HIV knowing their HIV status; 95 percent of people who know their status on treatment and 95 percent of those on treatment with suppressed viral loads.
Last year, Zimbabwe became the first African country – and the third country in the world – to approve injectable Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP).
NAC has since scaled up social media interventions to promote behavioural change, condom promotion and distribution.
The organisation was also promoting voluntary male circumcision, HIV testing services and prevention and
About 1,3 million people in the Southern African country are HIV positive. Zimbabwe’s total population is estimated at more than 15 million.
– CAJ News