East African Standard Examines How Female Fish Sellers in Kenya Engage in Sex To Secure Fish, Risk Contracting HIV
Kenya's East African Standard on Saturday examined how hundreds of women in the country who live along Lake Victoria put themselves at risk of contracting HIV by engaging in sex with fishermen in exchange for fish to sell. According to Judy Atieno, a fish seller at a local beach, because there are not enough fish available for sellers, some women exchange sex for fish when fishermen arrive with their catches. "There's a lot of poverty here on these beaches and this exposes the women to HIV/AIDS," Atieno said. Many women go to several beaches to engage in the practice and have several sexual partners, according to George Ong'injo -- a mobilization officer with Merlin, a United Kingdom-based health care nongovernmental organization. Some sellers also engage in sex with drivers of public vans so their fish can be transported more rapidly. Merlin is addressing the issue by mobilizing the community to form a theater group. The group uses participatory educational theater to perform skits, dances and songs related to HIV/AIDS. After the shows, the audience can ask questions and discuss issues about the practice of engaging in sex for fish and Bertha Ouma, a behavior change officer with the organization, distributes condoms to locals. Since the program began, more people have been taking HIV tests, Ong'injo said. In addition, more people are overcoming stigma and seeking voluntary counseling and testing, according to Atieno (Okoth, East African Standard, 11/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.