HIV programme targets factory workers
PHELISANANG Bophelong HIV Network says it will embark on education programmes and provision of HIV/Aids related services to thousands of factory workers and job seekers in the Maseru and Leribe districts.
Phelisanang Bophelong Executive Director, Thakane Kotelo this week told the Lesotho Times that they would use the financial support from the Global Fund Grant through Pact Lesotho to educate at least 30 000 workers about the importance of HIV prevention.
Ms Kotelo said they were targeting factory workers and job seekers on the same programme after realising that due to the high rate of unemployment and poverty, people migrated from one place to the other and increased their risk of being infected with HIV.
“There are high numbers of factory workers who have migrated from their original homes to work in the factories and in the process the same workers realise that the money they earn is not enough so they find ways to supplement their income,” Ms Kotelo said.
“The most common way the female workers supplement their income is by finding men loaded with cash and they get into relationships with them in exchange for cash.
“They end up having multiple sex partners, get infected and they are then left vulnerable and in danger,” Ms Kotelo said.
She said those women who failed to find jobs also resorted to so-called ‘blessers’ to survive and these ended up infecting them as well.
Ms Kotelo said their HIV and AIDS programme would therefore provide education and information that would enable the workers to make informed decisions concerning their lives.
“While we also equip them with weapons to fight and prevent HIV we will also distribute condoms and Information, Education and Communication (IEC) material to always protect themselves at all times.
“We won’t just distribute the condoms but we will provide tutorials on the proper and constant use of condoms to avoid infections,” Ms Kotelo said.
She said they would engage factory workers as peer educators because they were already familiar and comfortable with their colleagues and this would enhance the effectiveness of the education programme.
She said they would also engage employers because their understanding and cooperation was crucial to the success of the programme.
“It is a known fact that healthy manpower yields more production. So, for those workers who are infected and have to go for their routine check-up they must be allowed to do so without putting any barriers to their health,” she said.
“Some default on their treatment because employers become too strict and go to the extent of deducting from their salaries when they take a day off to go for check-ups or to collect their treatment,” she said.