Sex workers are identified as a key population in the South African National Strategic Plan (NSP) for HIV, STIs and TB 2017-20221. Widespread stigma and discrimination, state and non-state violence and harassment, restrictive laws and policies, criminalisation, and inadequate programmes and funding place sex workers at heightened risk of HIV and other health concerns, and undermine their access to services.
The Global Fund National Sex Work Programme, started in 2010, used peer education as the basis of the programme approach, as outlined in the NSWP and in line with recognised best practice: where peer educators were deployed to support sex workers with their healthcare and psychosocial needs, and to support them to access human rights.
This evaluation, conducted for NACOSA by Impact Consulting, investigated whether the peer education approach that was employed in the programme was an effective strategy to ensure benefits to sex workers, to document different ways the peer education strategy was implemented across different contexts, to assess the quality of support provided to sex workers, and to understand the sustainability of the programme and the outcomes. One specific area for investigation was to understand peer educators’ psychological wellbeing, and to assess whether the job may lead to secondary trauma.