An official from the National Commission for the Fight against AIDS (CNLS) has said that criminalizing and denying the existence of sex workers is a threat to curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS in the country.
Florida Mutamuliza, said this yesterday while officially opening a two-day partnership meeting on HIV and Human Rights advocacy towards intensification of HIV prevention in sex workers at Serena Hotel on Tuesday.
“If sex workers are ignored and considered criminals, they will remain in hideouts and it will be difficult for every organisation or commission fighting AIDS to identify them,” Mutamuliza observed.
“What has been done is just like a drop in the Ocean. More effort is needed to positively change the lives of sex workers and Rwandans in general,” Mutamuliza said.
The objective of the meeting, organized by Rwanda NGO-Forum on AIDS and Health Promotion, is to reinforce close collaboration between national, regional and international actors in sharing experiences and lessons that will further enhance future response to HIV and AIDS.
The forum’s President and legal representative, Aimable Mwananawe, commended Rwanda’s national strategic plan on HIV/ AIDS which calls for a re-orientation towards prevention in this most-at-risk section of the population.
He said that sex workers are vulnerable to AIDS infection and spread because of lack of access to health services, stigma, discrimination and violence.