Saturday, October 20, 2012

About 31 per cent of 7,500 female sex workers (FSWs) aged between 15 and 35 years in Dar es Salaam are HIV-positive, according to a new report by the ministry of Health and Social Welfare.

Titled “HIV Behavioural and Biological Surveillance Survey Among Female Sex Workers in Dar es Salaam, 2010”, the survey also indicated that sex workers were at a high risk of HIV infection because of inconsistent condom use, involvement in risky behaviour, including alcohol and drug use.

The assistant director of Environmental Health, Hygiene and Sanitation in the ministry, Mr Elias Chinamo, said the survey aimed at providing information on the prevalence of HIV infection, sexually transmitted infections, reproductive tract infection and associated risk factors among female sex workers.

Apart from HIV prevalence, the report also showed the prevalence of syphilis among female sex workers at 2.0 per cent, Hepatitis B virus (6.3 per cent), Hepatitis C virus (3.4 per cent), gonorrhea (10.5 per cent), chlamydia (6.3 per cent), T. Vaginalis (4.2 per cent), candidiasis (8.0 per cent), as well as other sexually transmitted infections (27.3 per cent).

According to the survey, 96.3 per cent of the FSWs used condoms when meeting their clients while only 31.6 per cent used a condom when they met their steady partner.

The common reason mentioned for not using a condom among FSWs was that the client rejected or paid more money.

According to the study, those older than 24, with low income and divorced or separated or widowed were associated more with HIV infection.

Failure to use a condom with steady partner and the use of drugs were also some of the factors linked to HIV infection.

Explaining on the way forward, Mr Chinamo said the government encouraged prevention and treatment alongside provision of education on all STDs  in almost all health centres countrywide, despite the research involving only FSWs in Dar es Salaam Region.

The ministry stressed the need to reduce vulnerability, prevent abuse, including direct structural, psychosocial, and clinical services to help individuals build protective skills to reduce abuse in their relationships and life contexts.

Story by Abela Msikula,
The Citizen Correspondent,
Dar es Salaam.


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