Bathabile still works with the CeSHARR sex work program in Zimbabwe and is also the vice chairperson and co-founder of a sex worker-led organisation, Women Against All Forms of Discrimination (WAAD). She started sex work at the age of fourteen. After noticing that most sex workers believe that they are already HIV positive or will eventually become so because of the nature of their work, she dedicated her life to empowering her peers. When she tested HIV-negative, she started taking PrEP and has made it her calling to mobilize sex workers to seek and access PrEP and other relevant services to remain healthy.
Sinikwe and Bathabile’s work together focused on sex workers’ acceptance of PrEP ahead of Zimbabwe’s national rollout. They worked with young sex workers, conducting over 50 community dialogues across the country, joined the Ministry of Health’s Technical Working Group on PrEP and engaged health workers, the police, church members and male partners to pave the way for culturally competent PrEP services, free of harassment and/or discrimination. They spoke on radio talk shows and drafted a position paper targeted at the Ministry of Health to emphasize the need for PrEP for young women and adolescent girls as an integral part of Zimbabwe’s comprehensive HIV prevention response.
In Their Own Words
I had feared to be stigmatized or that some would not allow their young women to attend the dialogues I organized, as a sex worker. But I think I managed to keep the demand on PrEP and I ensured that I provided support to everyone who needed information about the pill.
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