Reflections of a former Female Sex Worker...Before Total Control of the Epidemic came into Lusaka, Grace Mpundu was a commercial sex worker. She led this kind of life for 9 years and she never had an HIV test in her entire life. The reason for not taking an HIV test was that she never had time to visit clinics and hospitals just for a test. She could not imagine herself standing in queue just for an HIV test.
In 2014, however, Grace fell ill and went to the village and her family members took her to the traditional doctor who said the people responsible for my sickness were her fellow commercial sex workers as they were jealous of her for having high demand from men. After 2 months she came back to Lusaka even though life for her was not the same anymore because she could fall sick more often.
She narrates that, “One Monday morning, I saw a gentle man clad in a green T-shirt written DAPP TCE carrying with him a cooler box. I thought DAPP had started going door to door promoting their clothes until he introduced himself and cleared my mind that he was carrying out door to door visits mainly to give information on HIV/AIDS. He was also encouraging people to test and conduct testing on those who were willing to test for HIV. As I got more interested in what he was sharing, I decided to offer him a seat under a mango tree were he told me what HIV was, how it is transmitted and how it can be prevented, he further explained how the test results come out. He stated that a negative result meant that you do not have the virus while the positive one meant that you have the HIV virus.”
“Equipped with this information, I developed interest to test for HIV. He assured me of confidentiality and that the result was going to be ready there and then. I consented to the test; he then drew blood from my finger and the results were ready within 15 minutes. He explained to me that the result had come out positive and what it meant. I felt bad having been found HIV Positive; it is something I never thought of. I felt low in spirit, could not eat that day and I ended up spending the whole night thinking that I will soon die of AIDS. But with continued visits by the DAPP TCE field officer who kept counseling and encouraging me to go to the Anti-Retroviral Treatment clinic and adopt positive living, I decided to go to the clinic for Anti-Retroviral Treatment. I enrolled for Anti-Retroviral Treatment and started taking medication. I now feel better and stronger than before. Now am I am running my own business (selling of charcoal) and I am grateful to DAPP TCE for the good work they are doing in the community. The project gives people a second chance to life as it provides an opportunity for people to know their HIV status in the comfort of their homes, encourages them and links those who test positive to ART facilities.”
TCE in Lusaka works in 5 major health facilities namely Mtendere, Kabwata Kamwala, Railways and Mandevu. The project is reaching a population of 260,000 people with HIV and AIDS prevention messages, counselling and testing services. The project aims to get people mobilised and empowered to take control of HIV/AIDS in their own lives and that of their families and communities in a bid contribute to the reduction of new infections.