HIV for Sale At Ngundu Business Centre, Sex Workers Say Truckers
HIV for Sale At Ngundu Business Centre, Sex Workers Say Truckers Refuse Condoms
By Robert Tapfumaneyi
Sep. 23, 2015 (All Africa Global Media) — “OH yes, I do have unprotected sex; that way I make more money. I don’t care and don’t feel sorry for those I have infected (with HIV) because somebody infected me. I was negative when I came here.”
These are the words of Ngundu-based commercial sex worker Joyce, 24, who is living with HIV.
She left her rural home in Bikita, running away from extreme poverty at the age of 15 after she failed to sit for her ordinary level examinations.
Ngundu is the busiest growth point along the Harare-Beitbridge road and has become a death trap for many sex-starved and reckless truck drivers.
The highway connects Zimbabwe with other SADC countries such as the DRC, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and South Africa.
Joyce told NewZimbabwe.com that sometimes it’s the men who demand unprotected sex.
She said she is also shocked by the “I don’t care” attitude of cross border truck drivers who engage their services.
“I usually charge $3 for protected sex,” she said. “But price starts from $50 going up for unprotected sex.”
She revealed that she has been treated for various kinds of sexual transmitted infections (STI) but could not afford “days off” as she needs the money for survival.
Joyce said she is occasionally involved in fist fights with other sex workers as competition becomes stiff.
“The truck drivers sometimes prefer young and new sex workers and this does go down well with me and my friends and we end up arguing and fighting,” she explained.
Those forced out of business by younger entrants into the industry now resort to vending while waiting for their “regular” clients.
Information recently released by CeSHHAR, an organisation that specialises in sexual health and HIV and AIDS research, shows that at least 20% of sex workers are HIV positive.
The organisation said 52,214 sex workers have visited their centres across the country for help since 2009.
Of these, 26,090 were found to have sexually transmitted infections with some 10,922 testing HIV positive.
Prostitution is illegal in Zimbabwe which makes it even harder for sex workers to seek treatment at government medical centres.
Joyce said she resorts to traditional methods.
“I use traditional herbs every time I get infected because they chase us away at government hospital.
“And I can’t even think of visiting a private doctor because I can’t afford.”