Friday, June 20, 2008

Kenya: Ignorance and stigma surrounding men who have sex with men and male sex workers

"There are no appropriate and sensitive counselling services and HIV and sexual health campaigns only talk about vaginal sex as route of transmission.”

Homosexuality is illegal in Kenya under the Penal Code, Section 162 and as a result there is ignorance and stigma surrounding men who have sex with men (MSMs) and male sex workers (MSWs). This has resulted in the lack of prevention, care and management in HIV programmes.

A 2002 study conducted by the International Centre for Reproductive Health (ICRH) and the Population Council indicated that Male Sex Workers (MSW) existed in Mombasa and the surrounding areas. The study defined the MSW as “any man who regularly receives money or gift in exchange for sex with other men”.

An MSM, in contrast, is just a man who has sex with a man and refers to the act itself. Agnes Rinyiru, part of the IRCH, claimed that MSW in Kenya were increasing in numbers and in visibility, where MSWs identified themselves. The study estimated that there were more than 771 male sex workers in Mombasa alone.

Rinyiru reported that unlike in countries where homosexuality is legalized, in Kenya, those with this sexual orientation have to have both male and female partners to avoid contravening Kenyan laws. They are at an increased risk of transmitting or getting infected with HIV or STIs.

Peter Njoroge, the Director of ISHTAR –MSM, based in Nairobi in Kenya, explained that Voluntary and Counselling and Testing centres do not reach out to MSM, where if you tell them you are a homosexual you are likely to not get seen.

Read the rest on Africa News Science Service.

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