The National Strategic Plan for HIV Prevention, Care and Treatment for Sex Workers will be presented at the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) today, at 12:45. This Plan is a comprehensive rights- and evidence-based approach to HIV interventions within the sex worker key population. “Following World Health Organisation guidelines on HIV prevention amongst sex workers, the Plan does advocate for the decriminalisation of sex work”, said Maria Stacey, the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) Deputy Director.
The transmission of HIV and other STIs are real occupational hazards of sex work. Therefore, preventing infection among sex workers has the potential to improve both the health of individual sex workers, as well as to slow down HIV and STI transmission among wider populations. The South African National Strategic Plan (NSP) for HIV, STIs and TB 2012 – 2016, identifies sex workers as one of the communities that are at most risk of acquiring and transmitting HIV and other STIs. The NSP also recognises that sex workers experience barriers that limit their access to health and social services. This is largely due to criminalisation of sex work, and the resulting stigma and discrimination sex workers experience from society.
The Plan is meant to provide a framework to all service providers to create an environment that will enable and empower sex workers to reduce their own risk of HIV and STI transmission, to seek and get appropriate early diagnosis and treatment of HIV/STIs, and to address structural issues related to HIV and sex work. Further, this strategy will create a benchmark against which the services provided to sex workers will be monitored and evaluated to inform continuous improvement to access, uptake and effective utilisation of HIV prevention activities.
The session will be chaired by the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) Secretariat, Nditsheni Mungoni. Speakers will include Steve Letsike (SANAC), Coceka Noguduka (SANAC), Mark Dybul (Global Fund), and National Coordinator of Sisonke, Kholi Buthelezi. “I am happy and proud that we have come this far to be included as sex workers in this Plan. Now that we have a framework, it’s time for action”, said Buthelezi. Sisonke is the South African movement of sex workers, advocating for the rights of adult consenting sex workers. Buthelezi will be presenting on the ‘Struggles of Sex Workers in South Africa’.
Date: 10th December 2013
Venue: Cape Town International Convention Centre, Ballroom West