By Staff Reporter
SOME vendors sick with sexually transmission infections (STIs) are reportedly shunning public health care centres due to fear of stigmatisation and discrimination from health workers, it has emerged.
According to a recent report by the National AIDS Council (NAC), these informal traders are resorting to traditional herbs at bought at Mbare Musika and other informal market centres.
This however exposes them to the risk of becoming resistant to antibiotics when they later seek anti-retroviral drugs.
“Even in urban settings such as Mbare Musika, vendors justified the use of traditional herbs on the grounds that they are often stigmatised and discriminated against if they visit health service providers,” the NAC report notes.
“Their response in these circumstances is to rely heavily on local herbs and traditional medicines.”
According to the organisation, some HIV positive vendors were also accessing expired antibiotics from unregistered traders.
“This, in turn, predisposes the workers to the risk of resistance to antibiotics due to clients not being provided the full course.
“Again, medications provided may be expired and hence rendering them ineffective.”
During a focus group discussion in Mbare, vendors there openly told NAC officials that;
“Cancer is what we now fear as it cannot be treated. It is better to have HIV than cancer because cancer is incurable.”
The report said women traders were also facing gender segregation and reduced bargaining power to negotiate for safer sex.
“Sexual abuse and harassment are also due to factors such as failure to pay bribes, especially for women traders who sleep in open spaces due to lack of affordable accommodation at border posts and those in vending when negotiating to get their stuff after having been confiscated by municipal police.
“Vulnerability to HIV infection is increased in such circumstances as women are unable to negotiate for safer sex.”
According to the 2014 Zimstat Labour Force and Child Labour Survey Report, 94,5% of six million people defined as working in the country, are in the informal economy.