SA to launch Aids plan for sex workers
17 December 2013
South Africa's plan to help protect sex workers against HIV and help them access
treatment is a "flagship model" that should be followed by the rest of the world, Mark
Dybul of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria told Africa’s biggest
Aids conference held in Cape Town last week.
Dybul lauded South Africa’s National Strategic Plan for HIV Prevention, Care and
Treatment for Sex Workers as a comprehensive plan that "showed remarkable
leadership and (was) a flagship of how we must respond not only on this continent but
around the world", Business Day reported.
Dybul was speaking at the International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted
Diseases in Africa on 10 December.
The plan was developed by South African National Aids Council (Sanac), the Sex
Workers’ Education and Advocacy Taskforce (Sweat), Sisonke Sex Workers Movement
and the departments of Social
Development and Health, among others. It will form a
part of the country's National Strategic Plan for HIV and AIDS, TB and STIs 2012 –
The plan involves a significant scaling up of a comprehensive HIV prevention package,
improving services, reducing the discrimination against sex workers and mobilising
resources, Business Day says. It aims to increase access to HIV treatment for the
estimated 153 000 sex workers in South Africa, reduce the violence and human rights
abuses perpetrated against them and to promote their well being.
Fareed Abdullah, Sanca’s chief executive, writes in the foreword to the plan that
addressing the health of sex workers is "crucial to our plans to combat the spread of
HIV" in South Africa as they are most at risk of acquiring HIV and other sexually
Dybul reportedly said it was "appalling" that sex workers were 12 times less likely to
receive antiretroviral treatment than other people.
He said their rights had to be
respected and they had to be brought into the human family and given choices
regarding what to do with their lives.
The launch of the plan, which was due to take place at the conference on Tuesday last
week, has been postponed until 2014 out of respect for the passing of Nelson
Mandela, South Africa’s former president, who died on 5 December.
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria donated R3-billion in October
to South Africa for its HIV/Aids programmes, an amount which will supplement
prevention and referral services for two-and-a-half years.
Further funding from the organisation will assist specific HIV health services for sex
workers in the future, Sanca's Rentia Agenbag told SAinfo.
Business Day and SAinfo reporter