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Homa Bay commercial sex workers plead with county to step into void left by exit of local NGO

NYANZA
By James Omoro | September 20th 2021
In front from left, Impact Research and Development Organisation’s Technical Advisor on Key Population Stephen Ojowi and Communication Officer John Riaga consult at a Drop-In Center (DIC) in Mbita town. [James Omoro, Standard]

More than 2,500 female sex workers are calling on the county government to step in following the exit of a non-governmental organisation that has been supporting them in the fight against HIV/Aids.

The sex workers have been drawing support from Impact Research and Development Organisation (IRDO) which exited the county about a week ago.

Through the organisation’s support, the sex workers have been getting Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drugs and female condoms free of charge.  The drugs are taken before sex to prevent HIV infection in case they get exposed to HIV.

The workers also used to benefit from Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) drugs, which are used after suspected exposure to HIV.

Further, many of them have been getting antiretroviral (ARV) drugs free of charge at designated places where.

And now the female sex workers are appealing to the county to find alternative ways of helping them.

“Most of us have been able to protect ourselves from contracting HIV because of the drugs and condoms which we were getting from the NGO,” said Joyce, a female sex worker in Mbita town.

IRDO has been offering various services for preventing spread of HIV in Suba and Mbita Sub-counties where HIV prevalence is higher along the shores of Lake Victoria.

After 13 years

The organisation has exited after 13 years in the area.

IRDO technical advisors Florence Awuor and Rose Oyoo, in charge of HIV testing, said the NGO left because its contract had come to an end.

“We are exiting the county because our duration of service has ended,” Awuor said.

She said they had made various achievements in reducing prevalence of HIV in the county from 27.1 per cent to the current 19.6 per cent.

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