An illustration of a sex worker on the street. Internet Photo
The number HIV infected female sex workers have increased to 45%, especially among women aged 30-49 years. A new study has revealed that out of every 10 female sex workers aged between 30-49 years in Kampala, 4 -5 of them are HIV infected.
This is according to the results from the Crane survey IBBS project conducted between May and October 2021 in downtown Kampala. It is a collaboration of the Population Council, Makerere University School of Public Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Infectious Diseases Institute, and Ministry of Health.
The survey was conducted among 1,589 female sex workers and sexually exploited children of ages 15-49 years using audio computer-assisted self-interviews. During this study, participants’ blood was tested for HIV, viral load, and active syphilis; and cervicovaginal swabs were tested for human papillomavirus (HPV). While the overall prevalence of HIV among female sex workers in Kampala has remained at 31%, unchanged to previous surveys, This HIV prevalence at 31% is high compared to 7.1% percent among women in the general population. [UPHIA 2020]
According to the results, HIV prevalence was high and rose sharply with age. For instance, among the 20-29-year-olds, the HIV prevalence stood at 23%, while for the younger —sexually exploited children of age 15-19, it stood at 6.1%, compared to the 2.9% HIV prevalence among young women of the same age group [UPHIA 2020].
95-95-95 UNAIDS targets: The updated Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) targets for 2025 aim for 95 percent of those living with HIV to know their status, 95 percent of those who know their status to be on treatment and 95 percent of those on treatment to be virally suppressed. The preliminary results of the survey show encouraging progress toward the achievement of the UNAIDS 95-95-95 targets, on a positive side, 92% percentage of the female sex workers across all age bands were aware of their HIV status, with 85% of those who know their HIV positive status being on treatment Among all positive female sex workers living with HIV, 84% are virally suppressing. This can be compared to the national 95-95-95 performance of 80.9%, 96.1% and 92.2%, respectively. VLS is a marker of effective treatment. People living with HIV (PLHIV) with suppressed viral loads live longer, have fewer complications due to HIV, and are less likely to transmit the virus to others.
More survey results on female sex workers, including those of HIV testing, PreP access, Syphilis and Human Papilloma Virus, reproductive health, the impact of COVID-19 on access to services, alcohol, drug use, and depression, and stigma and other programme coverage and behavioral indicators can be accessed through the attached brief.
By Davidson Ndyabahika