PrEP Should Be Made Available To Sex Workers in Nigeria

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Regional Correspondent Africa

PrEP should be easily accessible to sex workers in Nigeria as an HIV prevention tool, an activist has urged with the Nigerian Sex Workers’ Alliance. Writing for the HIVE, an online journal on sexual and reproductive health, the coordinator of the Nigerian Sex Workers Alliance, Narah (a pseudonym), said that sex workers are being left behind when PrEP is offered.

NSWA, which is a member of NSWP and ASWA, advocates for the rights of sex workers and according to them, sex workers are vulnerable to HIV and other health related infections. “I want to reach out to any organization that works with sex workers in the area of PrEP to come to our rescue,” Ms Narah wrote in the HIVE journal, adding, “There is a huge need for PrEP in Nigeria because, in our work, we encounter so many bullies and rapists. Sex workers need PrEP because it’s a woman-controlled HIV prevention method.”

Whereas PrEP has been identified as a key HIV prevention strategy for key populations, a global consultation by NSWP held in 2014 noted that there are ‘existing gaps’ in its rollout, especially to sex worker. NSWP recommended in its report that sex workers are provided with ‘accurate knowledge and information’ around PrEP and that sex workers are engaged at all levels of programming.

In related news, NSWA have partnered with other organisations to open a drop in clinic to serve sex workers and other vulnerable groups in Abuja. Speaking to NSWP, NSWA coordinator Ms Narah, said the centre offers HIV services, STI screening and treatment, as well as condom and lubricants. The centre was opened with support of Heartland Alliance Nigeria, and with funding from USAID.

“Sex workers are employed as HIV counselors and other positions and this shows empowerment. What makes it unique is that it is the first time a thing like this is done specifically for key population groups. It also give services to other vulnerable groups including MSM,” Ms Narah added.