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STI treatment a challenge for sex workers

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Health workers and other concernedstakeholders have voicedout their concerns over the reoccurrenceof Sexually Transmitted Infections(STIs) in commercial sex workers.Sex workers allegedly fail to adhere tothe usual seven days of treatment, whichcomes with abstinence from sex for sevendays, because of fear of losing business.Kealeboga Lekgatlhang, a Nurse at theBotswana Family Planning and WelfareAssociation, lamented that the nature of thebusiness of commercial sex makes it opportunefor STIs to spread as sex workerssleep with many clients. He said the greatestimpediment to administering treatmenton prostitutes is the seven days without sexrequirement which disturbs their business.

 

“One of the medications given for STIsis inserted into the vagina, something thatbecomes a challenge because of the peculiarityof their work, so some of them justopt to not take the medication all together,”he explained adding that, it is diffi cult totreat sexual partners of the STI patients becauseit is almost impossible to track downtheir sex clients.Lekgatlhang explained that, “What mostof them do not understand is that when theydon’t fi nish treatment, they experience STIrelapse and the infection gets complicatedand very hard to treat,” something he saidwould most likely cause resistance to treatment,cancer and even infertility.The Project Coordinator of Kgolagano,Botshelo Moilwa, whose group providessensitization and HIV intervention forcommercial sex workers, said it is not easyfor prostitutes to fi nish medication becauseof fear of losing clients during the time thatthey are on treatment.

 

Moilwa advised that it is important fornurses to be sensitized on how to handleall kinds of patients regardless of who theyare because some commercial sex workershave complained of ill-treatment bynurses at clinics, something she pointedkeeps some of the sex workers from seekingmedical assistance.“Even though we sensitize them on theimportance of taking care of their health,some also complain that some nurses discriminateagainst them when they seektreatment because of what they do for aliving.”Phenyo Gaotlhobogwe, a coordinatorfor Nkaikela, a youth group that also helpscommercial sex workers, said some challengesrelate to unprotected sex, “Becausesome clients offer more money when theydon’t use a condom, it becomes a challengefor some of them to refuse money but weteach them that they cannot risk their livesover money.”She said at Nkaikela, they teach alternativelifestyles to the women, although theirefforts are thwarted by lack of resources.

 

“Some of them are ready to leave the tradeif given an alternative.” She said in Tlokweng,where her group is based they nowhave less cases of reoccurrences of STIsbecause they have had vigorous interventionsand training with on-going supportregarding the issue.

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