‘Avoid multiple sex partners to reduce Covid-19 transmission’

People should avoid multiple sexual partners as they risk the possibility of not only spreading HIV but passing on Covid-19 as well, the National Aids Council (NAC) has said.

In the past two months, Zimbabwe has witnessed an upsurge in Covid-19 local transmission cases, leaving questions to both authorities and citizens as to how the virus is spreading fast.

According to experts, Covid-19 can spread through saliva, mucus, breath, and contact with hard surfaces.

They also noted that having sex does increase the risk of passing on coronavirus.

While focus is on physical distancing as one of the prevention measures, people have noted that it is unrealistic to expect them to stop having sexual intercourse indefinitely.

In an interview with CITE on the position of sexual intercourse during the Covid-19 pandemic, NAC Provincial Manager, Sinatra Nyathi, said awareness needed to be increased on the dangers of reckless behaviour to avoid risks.

“The position is that when it comes to sex there is no social distancing, so if the other person is Covid-19 positive it means you are risking your sexual partner to Covid-19 so we are actually saying let’s remember there is a risk especially if you have intercourse with someone that you don’t know,” she said.

Nyathi said the best sexual partner during the pandemic was someone one lived with or had a relationship with.

“If it’s a husband and wife and they are locked down at home, we believe at least the chances of contracting Covid-19 in the home is low but if it’s someone from the streets there is a risk, as you don’t know where they are coming from, whether they have been exposed to Covid-19 or not then it becomes a risk,” she said.

The NAC official said awareness was crucial when looking at the connection between HIV and Covid-19, noting sex work was one such area that needed more information.  

“We need to continue raising awareness in terms of HIV and Covid-19 but sex work still continues yet the risk is there. We also work with our partners that are working with sex workers to give them information concerning Covid-19. They should sanitise, wash hands, put on masks but I’m not sure how feasible it is to have sex while putting on a mask,” Nyathi said.

“But we create awareness so that people make informed decisions whether it is the client of a sex worker or it is the sex worker. We give information as much we can.”

Sex workers are among the communities suffering the most due to the Covid-19 pandemic, as lockdowns and police crackdowns have reportedly left them without an income.

They have always been vulnerable to violence and infectious diseases such as HIV, a risk increased by  Covid-19.

Sexual health and LGBTI activist, Nozipho Moyo said authorities must undertake initiatives to alleviate challenges faced by sex workers, including giving out food packages and protective wear such as masks

“Sex work is one of the oldest professions in the world, not only in Zimbabwe and during this era of Covid-19, sex workers are an essential group to keep people mentally well. Secondly, their job as there is less social distancing. We expect the government, in particular the Ministry of Health and Child Care to be coming up with ways and alternatives on how sex workers can flourish in their trade and safeguard families in an era of Covid -19,” she said.

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