A recent study indicates that HIV prevalence among men who have sex with fellow men in Kenya is three times that among the general population.
The study from the University of Nairobi showed that the prevalence was due to insufficient access to HIV/AIDS prevention communication campaigns and MSM-tailored information.
The research which involved 50 respondents revealed that factors such as stigma, discrimination, and laws criminalizing sex between men highly undermine the gays to access health services and required information.
“They admitted to experiencing homophobia and homophobic violence, and that it hampers the effectiveness of HIV/AIDS prevention campaigns and implementation of information communicated. They also suggested that this 40 situation makes it complicated for them to access medical care and practice safe sex,” the study reads.
It was identified that condom use among gays is low but it has been on increase.
“In any capital city in the world, men who have sex with men are significantly more likely to have HIV. On average, 13 times more than the general population and nearly one in four, of who is in their capital cities are living with HIV,” the study reads.
“Kenya is home to approximately 100,000 gays (GALK, 2013). Over 70% of MSM in Nairobi and Kisumu knew correct answers to HIV/AIDS knowledge questions,” it adds.
20-25 percent of those residing in the cities said they did not believe that they could get HIV from unprotected sex.
Since 2009, the rate of HIV/AIDS prevalence among MSM appears to be on the rise in spite of their knowledge of the disease.
Most men do so from desire, but others do so for money or some other reward, or because women are not available, or because they are forced to. Some men have sex with men because no women are available.
Teenage boys in boarding schools or adult men in single-sex situations, such as prison or the military, may seek other men for sexual release.
Sex between men – in particular, anal intercourse without a condom – is one of the ways in which HIV and other sexually transmitted infections are passed on.
“Kenya has always been assumed to be high-risk heterosexual transmission and vertical transmission from mother to child. However, the last four or five years have demonstrated increased risk among other vulnerable populations including sex workers, and injecting drug users,” the study says.
The study recommends that healthcare institutions should create HIV-related prevention and awareness messages that are MSM-tailored.
To reduce cases of stigma and discrimination, training modules on MSM health needs and rights should be developed and offered as part of Continuous Medical Education (CME).
“Also, it is imperative to remove legal barriers that undermine access to HIV-related services such as laws that criminalize consensual sex between men.”