14 August, 2015 04:40

Kenya: HIV prevalence among female sex workers, gays rises: Report

Pastors of inter-denomination indigenous churches take part in a demonstration on the streets of Kakamega town in western Kenya to protest an alleged proposal to legalise same-sex relationships in the country.

HIV/Aids prevalence is increasing significantly among female commercial sex workers and the gay community despite the epidemic being generally controlled at 3 per cent.

This is according to a survey report released by the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RMC).

The findings, which serve to give updates on the HIV status in the country, revealed that the prevalence of the disease among female commercial sex workers was 41.4 per cent, varying from province to province.

IN SUMMARY

  • The findings, which serve to give updates on the HIV status in the country, revealed that the prevalence of the disease among female commercial sex workers was 41.4 per cent, varying from province to province.
  • Further, men who have sex with men (MSM), who have been tested, presented a 3.3 per cent prevalent rate.
  • Findings also reveal that the reason behind the high spread of HIV among the gay community in the country is the stigma and resentment which is subjected to them by society and their families, which has made them continue practising it discreetly and dangerously.

Further, men who have sex with men (MSM), who have been tested, presented a 3.3 per cent prevalent rate.

HIV prevalence among female commercial sex workers was higher among those aged 40 and above, compared to those in the 15-19 age bracket — perhaps due to a consistent condom use rate of 52.3 per cent in the group as opposed to those aged 40 and above, who were at 43.2 per cent.

However, results show that HIV prevalence is higher among female commercial sex workers aged 25 and above, compared to those between the ages of 15 and 24.

The two groups, which are categorised as high risk population groups, were found to be more susceptible to HIV infections, therefore needing more targeted intervention programmes to minimise risks of spreading the virus.

“This time around, the study we did incorporated HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men, we knew they were a risky group,” said Dr Sabin Nsanzimana, the head of HIV prevention and control at RBC. “But we didn’t know its 3.3 per cent.

“Every citizen, regardless of group, is our responsibility...to see that the HIV virus doesn’t spread and to care for those who live with it.”

Reports indicate that most homosexuals, especially men having sex with men, also exercise heterosexual relations, which has greatly increased the spread of HIV.

Findings also reveal that the reason behind the high spread of HIV among the gay community in the country is the stigma and resentment which is subjected to them by society and their families, which has made them continue practising it discreetly and dangerously.

Many of the homosexuals and other members of the LGBT community who live with HIV do not seek treatment while others do not go for HIV testing because they fear mistreatment from the public and medics, which many have been subjected to.

“There is always discrimination and other forms of mistreatment,” said Enoc Ndahenyuka, a member of the Rwanda Rainbow Rights, an association advocating for gay rights.

“We have had cases of our members who have sought medical treatment, and when the doctor sees that the infection is anal, they put you on the side and call other medics, who begin to ridicule them.

“This has made many shy away from anything related to medication.”

By Moses K Gahigi, RT Special Correspondent

The East African

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