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Nairobi remains the hub of prostitution and HIV infection

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Nairobi is Kenya’s capital of sex trade, common known as prostitution, new statistics show. According to the ministry of Health, of the more than 133,675 female sex workers in the country, 29,494 are in Nairobi while North Eastern has the lowest number 2,030.

What’s worrying, according to a report published in the Daily Nation today, is the fact that at least three in 10 female sex workers across the 47 counties are infected with HIV, National Aids Control Council figures show.

At least 39 per cent of sex workers in Nairobi do not believe abstaining from sex would protect them from HIV while 23 per cent don’t think they could get HIV from unprotected anal sex. Another 23 per cent don’t believe there is management for HIV.

It is because of this that the ministry of Health and other partners have been scratching their heads on how to involve this population in putting HIV infections in check. Distribution of condoms and availing treatment facilities are among efforts being made to halt the spread of the disease.

And lately, reformed sex workers are being used to reach out to their peers with information on HIV and this is a priority intervention area, according to Kenya Aids Strategic Framework 2014/15 to 2018/19. In Kilifi for instance, 40 girls are trained annually, after which each is expected to reach 10 prostitutes.

This is particularly vital because by 2010, there were over 5,500 sex workers in Mtwapa, 2, 000 in Kilifi and about 250 in Kikambala. Mr Dan Okoro, a HIV/AIDS analyst at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), says the number of twilight girls is increasing almost at the same rate with HIV.

“Nearly 30 per cent of new infections are among female sex workers and their reproductive health needs are unmet because their work is stigmatized. This is a hidden population that many of us ‘love to hate’ but can greatly determine our fate.”

This is worsened by the fact that this population is mobile and defaults on treatment putting their lives and those of their clients at risk, he says. One of the sex workers says she works alongside girls as young as 14 and they don’t know how to protect themselves from HIV.

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