The experiences of sex workers accessing HIV care services in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Background: Although sub-Saharan African countries have rolled out massive HIV treatment and care programmes, there is little evidence of these having embraced key population groups particularly female sex workers. Due to the criminalisation of sex work in countries like Zimbabwe, research on HIV and its impact on this group is sparse. The absence of an enabling environment has hindered access to HIV care and treatment services for female sex workers.
Objectives: To gain an in-depth understanding of the experiences of female sex workers accessing HIV care and treatment services to enhance programming and planning for this key population group.
Methods: This study was qualitative and phenomenological. Data saturation determined the sample size of 20 participants. Data was collected using in-depth interviews that were audio recorded, transcribed, and subjected to thematic content anal- ysis.
Results: Our findings demonstrate varying dynamics between the private and public sector HIV care services for sex work- ers, with facilitators and barriers to access to care.
Conclusion: Health workers need sensitization and training in the provision of differentiated care. For effective linkage to and retention in care an enabling environment is critical.
Keywords: Linkage to care; retention in care; enabling environment; facilitators; barriers.
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