"We cannot stand the humiliation"

July 6, 2016

‘This is our business and we do not intend to stop. But the way we are treated, we will die from all kinds of sicknesses, because we cannot stand the humiliation,’ said a sex worker in one of the Early Access to ART for All communities in Swaziland. Sex workers miss out on health services or access them too late because of healthcare workers’ attitudes.

The right to equitable access to appropriate health services is a universal right and should be made available to all, regardless of
profession. However, sex workers often experience barriers. Some health workers treat them differently from other clients because they know them from the streets where they work. During a dialogue targeting key populations in one of the Early Access to ART for All communities, concerns about healthcare workers' attitudes were highlighted. 

Clients are running away

While it is common in Swaziland to discourage 'bad' behaviour by alienating people in hopes they will change and fit into society, for key populations this is a barrier to accessing medical care, including HIV treatment. Sex workers often face humiliation and out of fear of being recognised at the local health facility, many opt for more remote health services. This is a setback for the Early Access to All implementation study in affected communities as clients are running away from the health facilities offering services. 

This article was published in the MaxART newsletter edition 8 - July 2016