HIV/AIDS community health workers say they find it easier to discuss the benefits of the use of condoms with sex workers than among married couples.
The issue of engaging communities on the benefits of safe sex methods and condom use, they added, was even worse among married Christian couples who think there are “holier” than the heathen sex workers.
A health worker based in Hopley, Harare, Manyara Zvikaramba said sex workers were more knowledgeable on the issues to do with HIV/AIDS, and engaging in protective sex than married couples.
She added most sex workers were aware of their HIV status than married couples.
Hopley is a sprawling informal settlement in Harare South, a popular residential area with sex workers because of the cheap accommodation available in the area.
“Most sex workers from the look of things are HIV negative as compared to married couples,” Zvikaramba told NewZimbabwe.com in an interview last week.
“Sex workers are ready, and do not shun to speak about the use of condoms with their partners or clients and you can see that their knowledge on HIV is high than most married couples.”
Olive Mutabeni, a director with Life Empowerment Support Organisation (LESO), added the issue of talking about condom use and engaging in safe sex was even worse among Christians.
She said most Christian couples show their “holiness” to the outside world yet in private they were promiscuous and exposed to HIV/AIDS.
“In churches, there is a lot of hindrances as some are too ‘godly’ and the moment you start talking about HIV issues, they see you as if you are introducing satanism to their faith and they do not want to hear that,” said Mutabeni.
“So it’s even very difficult for them to accept condom use in their marriage. Women say it will be very difficult for them to introduce the use of condoms to a man who paid lobola for me.”
She added: “Questions will arise from the husband why introduce a condom when we are married. The issue has also caused gender-based violence. As a result, couples are afraid to introduce the use of condoms in their marriages. So it’s a tug of war in marriages.”
Another health worker, Vaidah Dube said some couples ended using antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) at their workplaces or privately at home so that the other partner would not know.
“When I got tested HIV positive, I then approached my husband and told him the truth and encouraged him to go and get tested and he tested positive. It then became easier for us to use condoms,” she said.
“However, in our communities, it’s still a taboo as most men do not accept condom use and will start asking questions yet they do not want to go and get tested HIV.” newzimbabwe