Wednesday, April 29, 2009

7,000 prostitutes in Nairobi every night

By GATONYE GATHURA

An ongoing census on the number of female and male prostitutes in the country indicates there are more than 7,000 of them in Nairobi’s Central Business District every night. Through the recently launched Wacha Mpango wa Kando programme, the Ministry of Public Health is identifying prostitution hotspots and providing them with services and products to curb HIV.

Through the National Aids and STDs Control Programme, universities of Nairobi and Manitoba in Canada, the ministry has opened a clinic in River Road where prostitutes are screened, treated and counselled at no cost. So far, the River Road clinic has screened about 6,000 prostitutes for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and about 30 per cent tested HIV positive.

“We found HIV prevalence levels among prostitutes to be at 34 per cent, almost four times the national average of 7.1 per cent,” says Nascop head Dr Nicholas Muraguri. An interesting finding was that among the prostitutes visiting the clinic, 60 per cent either have a steady boyfriend or a husband who are not aware of their partner’s activities.

In such cases, the couple is highly unlikely to use a condom. Earlier, Public Health minister Beth Mugo said more clinics will be opened at prostitution hotspots on highways.

Mostly at night

Dr Muraguri said the clinics will operate mostly at night in the hope that the prostitutes will find this to be convenient. Male prostitution also appears to be on the rise as shown by a two-year study in Kisumu that said out of the 485 men who had sex with other men, 80 per cent were married or in a serious relationship. The study, in collaboration with Liverpool VCT, found that 75 per cent of men prostitutes did so to provide for their families.

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