Alarming figures from a recent survey revealed that over 60% of commercial workers in the Kissy Texaco region have tested positive for HIV. The research, spearheaded by Horizon Denmark in partnership with Pink Power Sierra Leone, spanned several regions between 2021 and 2023.

Awoko reports that the announcement was made during a press conference by Erick Rasmossew, the Director of Horizon Denmark, on October 11. He highlighted that the Kissy Texaco area recorded the highest HIV-positive rate among commercial sex workers. In a sub-study from January 2022 to May 2023, 45 of 200 sex workers were found to be HIV-positive, representing 22% of the sample.

Rasmossew emphasized the importance of treatment adherence: โ€œThe major obstacle in our fight against HIV in Sierra Leone is the lack of seriousness in treatment adherence.โ€ He stressed the need for sex workers to undergo regular testing, commit to consistent treatments, and for their clientele to always use protection. “A united front, including the media’s active involvement, is crucial in this battle,” Rasmossew added.

Pink Power’s contributions, despite being a smaller entity, were lauded for their dedication to not only transition young women out of the sex trade but also to equip them with essential skills and opportunities to pursue education. One of their beneficiaries, Kadijah, candidly spoke about entering the trade at 14 and only recently discovering her HIV-positive status through Pink Power’s intervention. “Discovering my status was daunting, but thanks to Erick and his team, I have found hope again,” she remarked.

Another success story was shared by Isata Sesay, a former commercial worker and now a Pink Power staff member. After losing her only known family, her aunt, she found herself trapped in the trade for three years. Pink Power’s intervention not only helped her exit the profession but also to return to school. Having cleared her WASSCE, she now serves at the organization that changed her life. With gratitude, Sesay urged fellow women in the trade, “Don’t lose hope. Embrace any chances that come and realize your true potential.”

This news highlights the urgency for heightened awareness, health outreach, and preventive measures in Sierra Leone, particularly among vulnerable populations.