Probably no job is harder than a counsellor’s, especially when it comes to disclosing a client’s HIV status. On the other hand, no amount of counselling can be enough to prepare someone for sad news. But 30-year-old Josephine Nakato defied the odds.
Four years ago, Nakato learnt she was HIV-positive. “I was not surprised by the results because for years I had earned a living from prostitution,” she confesses.
“The ailment had gnawed me; I had lost weight, had a rash all over my body and sore lips. But my health has improved since I started taking ARVs.”
Nakato, however, regrets that quite often, the time she takes her ARVs coincides with the time most of her clients seek her services.
“I briefly sneak out to the latrine to take my ARVs,” she says.
Nakato says when she first went to The AIDS Support Organisation (TASO) in Tororo district, about 10 young sex workers at the Malaba border would die of HIV/AIDS every month.
However, today, the deaths have reduced because many have embraced positive living.
HIV/AIDS high at the border
Yosiya Ogwang, an opinion leader in Obore village, Malaba town council, says Tororo and Busia have a high number of people living with HIV because the districts not only lie at the border area separating Uganda and Kenya, but the two districts also host the official custom entry points.
However, because of the elaborate clearance system at the customs office, often the delays in cargo clearance compel the drivers and turn-boys to spend nights at the border.
“The daily influx of drivers and turn-boys has for years promoted promiscuity around these places,” an official at the Uganda Revenue Authority, who preferred anonymity, says.
In addition, five other commercial sex dens have cropped up in Tororo as a result of the vibrant cement industry.