Cym van Dyke will never see the clinic that now bears her name in Western Cape, South Africa, but for the countless sex workers and transgender women like her, it will be a place of safety and access to desperately needed healthcare. AHF and Sex Workers Education & Advocacy Task Force (SWEAT) cut the ribbon on the new clinic on June 8.
“Cym van Dyke (pronounced Kim) was a trans woman and a fierce activist who died because she couldn’t access the care she needed,” said Sally Shackleton, Executive Director of SWEAT. “Our partnership with AHF helped us realize the dream of holistic care for sex workers. Cym’s clinic will improve the lives of sex workers, their children and partners and for our ladies, this will finally be a clinic that knows their names and treats them with dignity.”
Transgender women and sex workers are among the most marginalized and stigmatized communities in South Africa, with HIV prevalence rates that exceed the already high national prevalence rate of 19 percent. They routinely encounter hostility at public clinics, effectively denying them lifesaving treatment.
“The women and men in attendance embraced AHF and welcomed the clinic in a way I haven’t been privileged to witness before. There was genuine joy and real gratitude from a group of people who just the day before attended the sentencing of a famous South African artists who had beaten a sex worker to death,” said Larissa Klazinga, AHF Regional Policy and Advocacy Manager for SOuther Africa. “I’m really proud to work for an organization that makes this kind of investment in people’s lives and stays the course no matter what.”
The clinic will be open daily from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. and will offer testing and treatment for various health conditions, including HIV and TB at the clinic.