Preventing HIV, not training sex workers

North West health department disputes allegations that it trains young women to become prostitutes, as Sowetan reported on February 11.

North West health department disputes allegations that it trains young women to become prostitutes, as Sowetan reported on February 11.

The complainants were invited to a workshop to teach youth about HIV, drug abuse and crime. The department is running a high transmission area (HTA) programme to prevent spreading sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and Aids among sex workers and truck drivers. It is not a programme to train people to become prostitutes.

Interventions where the likelihood of becoming infected are high include training sex workers as peer educators.

Peer education educates people through role-playing, story-telling, general information and preventing infections through safe-sex practices. At no stage whatsoever are people trained to become sex workers.

The programme is running in 20 sub districts where sex workers operate. There are currently 17 hotspots and two intervention sites at the Zeerust roadside clinic and in Merafong. HIV and Aids coordinators at sub-district level identify unemployed young people and sex workers who are willing to be trained as peer educators. They are paid a stipend of R500.

The department rejects suggestions that young people are lured into becoming prostitutes.

Nthabiseng Makhongoana Spokesman: department of health, North West

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