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Sensitization of sex workers to the fight against HIV AIDS

"I'm 21 years old and I've been a sex worker for two years. After this awareness I decided to do everything to no longer be a sex worker because I come out with hope for the future, ", says a girl who is kept anonymous. She is a sex worker in Ngozi. She is among the 705 sex workers sensitized to the fight against HIV AIDS throughout the month of August 2018 by the United Nations Fund for Population (UNFPA) in Burundi, in collaboration with the National Program to Fight HIV AIDS (PNLS); program of the Ministry in charge of Public Health. These sensitization sessions for sex workers were organized for those located in Kamenge town hall of Bujumbura but also those in six provinces of Burundi namely Cibitoke, Gitega, Kayanza, Muyinga, Ngozi and Rumonge. Of these 705 female sex workers, the youngest was 17 years old while the oldest was 57 years old. 

Most of these sex workers report being forced to become sex workers because of poverty. This one is a girl of 23 years old. Born of a family of 10 children, she was unable to continue her studies because of poverty. She testified that she was forced to "fend for herself" to survive. With tears in her eyes she shared:

"Born of a poor family of 10 children, I could only become sex worker to survive, "she says.
"Born into a poor family of 10 children i could only become a sex worker
to survive", she shared. Photo UNFPA Burundi/Queen BM Nyeniteka

 "I'm from a family of 10, my father was unable to provide anything we needed, and I was forced to drop out of school and find another way to survive. This life of a sex worker hurts me very much, every time I regret a lot after meeting a man, but I do not have too much choice, I would so much like to find a way to earn my life in a best way ". In these sensitization sessions for sex workers, a questionnaire was administered to them in order to be profiled. Presentations were also made not only to strengthen their capacity to prevent HIV AIDS, but also to raise their awareness of voluntary testing and condom use, which will ensure dual protection, namely the fight against unwanted pregnancies. but also against HIV AIDS. In fact, only 339 of them reported using condoms all the time, which increases the risk of HIV infection and spread, especially only 555 among those 705 sex workers admitted to being tested.

During these outreach services, voluntary HIV testing was offered to sex workers in collaboration with the health facility teams closest to the workshop sites as well as male and female condoms. Many of them said that they would like to be supported to establish small businesses that will allow them to no longer be sex workers because they do not do it cheerfully as they said.

By Queen BM Nyeniteka