Gold Mines in Kenyan Community Create Challenges for HIV/AIDS Awareness Efforts, IRIN/PlusNews Reports
HIV/AIDS awareness messages targeted at the gold mining communities of Nyatike in Kenya's Migori district are having little impact, Tom Rakewa, Migori district's HIV/AIDS officer, said recently, IRIN/PlusNews reports. Many women and girls turn to commercial sex work to make money from miners, sometimes offering sex for as little as $1, according to IRIN/PlusNews. According to the Kenya National Board of Statistics, Nyatike's constituency is one of the poorest in Kenya.
HIV prevalence in Nyanza Province, where the Migori district is located, is estimated at 15.8% -- the highest in Kenya. Migori district's medical officer, Mwita Nyamohanga, said that although there are some organizations fighting the spread of HIV in the area, risky sexual activity continues to occur. He added that it is difficult to stop the sex work that occurs around the mines because "the people will tell you they are trying to make a living."
According to Rakewa, poverty affects women and children most in the mining communities. He said, "Research shows that Nyatike division, in particular, has a very high number of women- and child-headed households. When you have such a vulnerable group suffering from both HIV and poverty, then you can imagine what the situation that puts them in." According to Rakewa, an average of six out of every 10 women who come to the Nyatike sub-district hospital during their pregnancies test positive for HIV. In addition, the health risks posed by mining, including the working conditions that can lead to chest infections such as tuberculosis, contribute to the poor health of workers living with HIV/AIDS (IRIN/PlusNews, 10/2).