There are a number of the individuals living in Chirundu District in Zambia, who are members of the key populations community, that face a high risk of HIV. The district is one of five districts where the USAID CHEKUP II Activity works in Zambia. USAID CHEKUP II seeks to reach members of this community with interventions to identify individuals who are at high risk for HIV and support them to access services, including those focused on HIV prevention and viral suppression.
Bordering with Zimbabwe, Chirundu District is part of Zambia’s north-south corridor that originates in Nakonde on the Tanzanian border. Like in other border towns, transactional sex is common among key populations due to the cross-border movements and high traffic of trucks and business opportunities. As a result, key populations in these areas face a risk of HIV infection.
USAID CHEKUP II seeks to broaden access to services for KPs. One of the project’s interventions is a peer-to-peer mobilization strategy. The strategy uses peer engagement to connect members of key populations to discrete, preventive biomedical services such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and condoms. The outreach strategy involves reaching members of key population in their communities or congregate settings and connecting them with services to help ensure that those living with HIV are rapidly diagnosed, linked to treatment, and sustain viral suppression.
One of the KP client advisors on PrEP mobilizes others by linking them to prevention services and PrEP provision. USAID CHEKUP II trained the KP client advisor and 53 other peer educators in basic prevention messaging, including what PrEP is, and the side effects and benefits of PrEP.
The client advisor reflects, “Being on PrEP makes it easier for me to talk to my fellow (members of) key populations on HIV prevention, and giving them information on the benefits of PrEP. I also talk to truck drivers about PrEP. If the truck drivers get protected, they also protect us.”
The peer-to-peer mobilization strategy has allowed USAID CHEKUP II to reach more members of key population in Chirundu District with prevention messages, condom distribution, and PrEP provision. The number of individual members of key population reached by prevention services has increased from an average of 14 per month before October, 2022, to over 500 per month by March, 2023.