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Health dept to approach police minister over victimisation of sex workers

The department plans to approach Nathi Nhleko about the victimisation of sex workers by police officials.

The National Sex Worker HIV Plan aims to curb the rising prevalence of HIV among sex workers. Picture: Masa Kekana/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The Health Department says it plans to approach Police Minister Nathi Nhleko and the national police commissioner about the victimisation of sex workers by men and women in blue.

The South African National AIDS Council (Sanac) together with the Health Department, various sex worker NGOs, and government have launched the National Sex Worker HIV Plan.

Sanac CEO Abdullah Fareed says over 70% of sex workers in Johannesburg are HIV positive, and the plan aims to curb these numbers.

Fareed says sex workers will receive antiretrovirals (ARVs) regardless of their HIV status as a preventative measure to decrease the number of infections.

Fareed says the plan was initiated by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, who called for a national effort to address the needs of sex workers in June last year.

He says there are about 153,000 sex workers in Johannesburg.

Fareed says even though sex work is illegal in South Africa, workers have human rights and the HIV plan also aims to minimise the stigma against the profession.

MEDICAL AID SCHEMES

At the same time, Motsoaledi has accused private medical aid schemes of inflating prices.

Motsoaledi addressed the Competition Commission's Health Market Inquiry at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) yesterday where he said the country is spending more on the minority in private healthcare.

The commission is investigating the state and nature of competition in the healthcare sector.

The minister has warned of what he calls an 'onslaught on prices', where expenditure on private health has increased by more than R40 billion over the last five years.

The department's Deputy Director General Anban Pillay says the drastic increase in private health care is putting pressure on the public sector.

Motsoaledi says several countries are already regulating private health care to help decrease costs.

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