Kenyan men are going back to having many sexual partners as the fear of HIV-Aids fades, reports a new regional study.
The study covering 11 East and Southern African countries, including Kenya, shows an increase in persons and especially men compared to women having multiple and casual partners.
The study compares sex behaviour before the HIV pandemic, during the peak in the 1980s and 90s and today and tells of growing complacency against the disease.
Pre-HIV days, the report shows high multiplicity of sex partners which dropped with the Aids scare of the 1980s and 90s which led to less risky sex behaviour.
This sexual behaviour change, the study says, contributed to reductions in HIV incidence in the region but more recently, “there are indications that non-regular partnerships have increased.”
Analysing data from Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) and AIDS Indicator Surveys (AIS) from the 11 countries the researchers say loose sex behaviour has crept back.
The emerging behaviour, the study says is characterised by having multiple sex partners, engaging more with casual partners and early debut in sex especially for young girls.
Luckily, the researchers say that currently there is more condom use than before, hence fewer HIV infections.
The study published last week (June 21 2019) in the Journal of the International Aids Society was carried out by the Imperial College London, UK, and the Biomedical Research and Training Institute of Zimbabwe.
“After years of decline, populations may return to pre-epidemic levels in risky behaviour,” says the study.
The authors suggest people are going back to risky sexual behaviour possibly because of increasing use of condoms, complacency due to availability of HIV treatment and normalisation of Aids.
The study covered Kenya, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
It reports recent increase in multiple, non-regular and casual partnerships among men in 10 of the 11 countries and in women in nine of these countries.
Namibia is the only country where both men and women are not taking to multiple partners.
In Kenya, there is an increase in the number of men having multiple sex partners but not with women.
Kenya men are increasingly engaging with non-regular and casual partners compared to women whose behaviour has remained constant since the days HIV was feared.
During the period, the study shows the use of condoms by both Kenyan men and women went up with all types of partners.
However, while the age at which Kenyan males start having sex has not changed, it has gone down for women, indicating that girls are getting into sex earlier than during the Aids peak days.
While in Uganda and Zambia men are not increasing their dalliance with multiple partners, women are taking more as well as casual and non-regular partners.
The authors are calling for more efforts especially to protect young girls from early sex debut.