Important to focus on female sex workers and their children

A portrait of Thokozile Kambewa Mussa who works at Coalition of Women Living with HIV and AIDS (COWLHA) in Malawi. COWLHA unites different groups of women as a civil society force in dealing with issues on gender and women’s rights in the context of HIV and AIDS that impact on the lives of women living with HIV and AIDS in Malawi. COWLHA’s mandate specifically seeks to enhance the protection and promotion of rights of women living with HIV and AIDS.
Last updated on: 12 March 2024

Thokozile Kamewa of COWLHA in Malawi works at a new project in collaboration with Aidsfonds focussing on paediatric HIV. We spoke with her about the importance of including female sex workers in finding children living with HIV, and what she hopes to happen after the project has phased out. Watch her interview!

“The project that we have just started with Aidsfonds, it’s about, the title is Kids Health, Kids Rights. And the main goal is to eliminate vertical transmission, and ensure that children and with their mothers live healthy and full lives. It is very important to focus on female sex workers and their children. Because these female sex workers, they are still at a bearing age. Most of them don’t like going to hospitals because of issues of discrimination and stigma. And of course, the health care workers’ attitudes. That’s why most of these sex workers they just back off, they’re just staying home.

So that’s why we want to capacitate them with information and enough knowledge on elimination of mother-to-child transmission. And just to ensure that they know what steps to follow, and they know how best to take care of their children both physically, mentally, and even in nutrition ways.

After the project phases out what I will be proud of, to see the community ownership that will be there, because community ownership ensures sustainability of the project. That means, the people there the female sex workers themselves, the community members, even people from the District Council, they will still continue with the program they will know what to do. At the same time, we’ll be happy to see that the number of new infections in children have been decreased or there are no new infections at all.”