HIV+ Sex workers face human rights violations-Report
Kenyan sex workers living with HIV/AIDS face persistent human rights violations, especially when it comes to accessing healthcare says a Global Network of People living with HIV/AIDS (GNP+) report.
The report, which is being released on World Aids day at the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa, is based on interviews with sex workers living with HIV in six counties across Kenya (Nairobi, Mombasa, Kiambu, Machakos and Kisumu).
Almost half of those interviewed could not access their ARVs while in custody.
A sex worker from Kiambu County said, “Yes I was aware of my HIV status when I was arrested but I didn’t dare ask for a chance to send for my medicine as I did not want to disclose my status to them. I stayed for the whole week without medication.”
Phelister Abdalla, Country Coordinator of the Kenya Sex Workers Alliance, said the findings did not come as a surprise.
“Sadly we regularly see examples of sex workers rights being abused. They are discriminated against and treated as second-class citizens by healthcare workers and law enforcement officers,” said Abdalla.
Of all STIs, HIV/AIDS is the most stigmatised.
“For those sex workers who are also living with HIV, the discrimination is even worse and we call on the Kenyan government to take action to uphold our constitutional rights,” expressed the Kenya Sex Workers Alliance representative.
Nelson Otwoma, Executive Director of the National Empowerment Network for Persons Living with HIV/AIDS (NEPHAK) argued that his discrimination is hampering the right against the disease.
“We know that human rights violations against people living with HIV including key populations is holding back the Kenyan HIV response,” said Otwoma.
The report is part of a community led evidence and advocacy project coordinated by (GNP+) called Human Rights Count for Key Populations Living with HIV.
Rhon Reynolds, Global Advocacy Manager of GNP+, called on countries to make policy changes that would ensure equal treatment of those living with the disease.
“To progress towards the global target on zero discrimination, countries must adopt a rights-based approach, and urgently respond to the systemic human rights violations against key populations living with HIV as documented in our research.”
The research was coordinated by GNP+ and led in Kenya by the National Empowerment Network for Persons Living with HIV and AIDS in Kenya (NEPHAK) in collaboration with the Kenya Sex Workers Alliance (KESWA) and Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme (BHESP).
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