Young fishermen between the ages of 15 to 24 years along Lake Victoria hate using condoms during sex. Majority of them prefer having unprotected sex with multiple sex partners even when they are aware of their HIV status. To them HIV is like a flu hence they have nothing to fear.
Having multiple sex partners, transactional sex (fish for sex) and failure to use condoms even with partners known to be HIV positive are some of the factors that have contributed to high HIV prevalence along the shores of Lake Victoria and Nyanza region as a whole.
According to the Kenya Demographic Health Survey 2014 men are much more likely than women to report having two or more sexual partners. Moreover, men who reside in Nairobi and Nyanza are most likely to have multiple partners. It is estimated that 60 percent of women and 56 percent of men who had two or more sexual partners reported no condom use during their last sexual intercourse. Moreover, Payment for sexual intercourse is also associated with risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections due to compromised power relations that result in inconsistent condom use.
Along the shores of Lake Victoria there is a lot cash and disposable incomes because most fishermen in the lake region don’t have a culture of saving. The fishermen use most of their income on women. Because of this, low income women are drawn to these fishermen precisely because of opportunities to sell food and transactional sex. Most of these fishermen usually think that their partners are usually faithful hence there is no need to use protection putting themselves at risk of contracting HIV and other STIs.
The lake region has been neglected for many years and has very little in terms of basic health and human resources at the health facilities, HIV and AIDS care and education facilities. Low levels of comprehensive knowledge on HIV prevention among the fishing community has attributed to high HIV prevalence in the region.
There is need to invest on quality, accurate, affordable and stigma free sexual and reproductive health and rights information and services in the lake region if we are to win the war against HIV. Sexual and reproductive health and rights are human rights and everyone is entitled to them.
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