By Elizabeth Ndhlovu-Dumbreni

 

Pastor Caroline Maposhere

Health professional, counsellor and pastor, Caroline Maposhere, who was part of the dialogue with parliamentarians on addressing health/ HIV services for key populations, used the binaries and boxes tool to demonstrate and address the stereotypes and homophobia perpetrated against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) members of our society.

By Elizabeth Ndhlovu-Dumbreni

SAfAIDS Executive Director Mrs Lois Chingandu

SAfAIDS last week held a dialogue with parliamentarians on addressing barriers to access to health/ HIV services for key populations (KPs). The dialogue, which was attended by lawmakers, KP members, the media, and traditional and religious representatives, focused on sensitising the audience on the needs of key populations as well as doing away with stigma.

By Elizabeth Ndhlovu-Dumbreni

 

Honourable Susan Matsunga (standing) shares her views at meeting

 

Member of Parliament for Harare Metropolitan, Honourable Susan Matsunga, highlighted at the KP dialogue with parliamentarians, the importance of working with key populations on the ground and involving them in all planned activities.

By Elizabeth Ndhlovu-Dumbreni

Key populations (KP) in Malawi are a group facing significant stigma and discrimination both in society at large and at health facilities, because some of their behaviours are stigmatised and even criminalised. As a result, they also have less access to HIV prevention, care, and treatment services.

It is against this backdrop that Malawian MP for Mchinji West; Honourable Deus Gumba (pictured above), has made strides in giving a voice to members of key populations in his constituency and beyond.

Buumba continues to defy all odds not only in Zambia, but regionally and internationally. In the last quarter alone she has received five local and international awards namely: The Zambian Woman of the Year: Cry of An Orphan Award; Outstanding African Motivational Award; African Image Maker Award; and the 100 Iconic Women World Award (alongside world leaders like German President Angela Merkel, Hilary Clinton, Melinda Gates, Indira Ghandi, Christine Lagarde and Wangai Matari!)

Sex workers in Mashava have faced stigma and discrimination as their work is considered unacceptable by the community; many religious groups believe sex work is a sin and against the law of God. As a result, sex workers are viewed as a disgrace to society and these attitudes are shared by service providers. Consequently, sex workers face challenges in accessing sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services and rights. When they do gather the courage to access SRH services for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), they are asked to bring their partners. This acts as a barrier to their accessing treatment as – since they have multiple sex partners – tracing their STI contact is difficult.