BHESP BLOGS

The high burden of HIV infections among female sex workers (FSW) in sub-Saharan Africa has been long recognized, but effective preventive interventions have largely not been taken to scale. We undertook a national geographical mapping exercise in 2011/2012 to assess the locations and population size of FSW in Kenya, to facilitate targeted HIV prevention services for this population.


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The new face of HIV prevention

Pre-exposure prophylactics, also known as PrEP, are drugs that can prevent one from being infected with HIV.

With their rollout to the general public in May this year, Joan Thatiah asks if PrEP will take the place of the other three pillars of anti-HIV infection measures.

“Suzie is a beautiful woman with many lovers: Edwin sets the rhythm of the week. When broke, old Micky chases away her blues. And David the ex is on speed dial for personal emergencies. Suzie doesn’t know that Edwin parties recklessly, David is HIV positive and she is not the only fly in old Micky’s web. Suzie doesn’t always use condoms. She is not safe, she also needs PrEp.”

This is part of the script of an advert that has been running on YouTube, promoting the May 2017 Kenya rollout of the pre-exposure prophylactic drug (PrEP) as a new way to prevent HIV infections. The drug is called Truvada, and Kenya is the second African country after South Africa to embrace it.


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I  EMPOWER BAR HOSTESSES AND HELP THEM KNOW THEIR RIGHTS

Peninah mwangi is the executive director of the Bar Hostesses Empowerment and Support Programme

 I studied sociology and literature at university. After graduation, as I was job searching, I managed a pub for a relative. It was here that I came face to face with the violence that women who work in bars endure. I saw women being grabbed by customers, male customers refusing to pay bills or taking a lot of drinks and declaring that they would only pay if the woman agrees to go home with him.The day that I resolved to do something, a policeman had come in to drink and when the waitress asked him to pay, he dragged her out, bundled her into the boot of a car and went and locked her up in a cell. I knew that had to do something. I gathered the hostesses and we stormed the police station. We took the matter up with the station OCS and the officer was reprimanded. That was when I knew that together, we had the power. That was 19 years ago. Today I work with bar hostesses, sex workers and young women. They are most vulnerable to acts of violence and HIV infection. The numbers are disturbing. For instance, every three out of four people infected with HIV are young women. How can we ignore that?


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BHESP rolls out PrEP pills to fight HIV

More than 95 adolescent young girls and women have enrolled for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis {PrEP} according to Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme (BHESP) Jogoo Road Wellness Centre statistics for the month of May.

This means that on average 3 people were enrolled daily for PrEP at the drop-in centre, which on average attracts 400 clients monthly.

PrEP is antiretroviral drugs taken daily by HIV-negative people most at risk of HIV infection to reduce their chances of becoming infected.

BHESP statistics for the end of May indicates 22 young females aged 15-19 were enrolled for the daily pill which if used consistently can reduce the risk of getting HIV from unprotected sex by over 90 percent.

The monthly report shows that 39 females aged between 20-24 enrolled for PrEP with the National AIDS and STI Control Programme (NASCOP) reporting that 71,034 people aged above 15 years got infected with HIV in 2015.

“23 percent of the total enrolled for PrEP were females aged 25-30 while 11 percent were 30 years and older,’’ the report adds.

According to Lucy*, 21, one of the young girls enrolled on PrEP at the facility, the daily pill has really helped her protect herself from HIV infection as she is very vulnerable due to the nature of her work.


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BHESP CELEBRATES INTERNATIONAL SEX WORKERS DAY CALLING FOR THE DECRIMINALIZATION OF SEX WORK

On 2nd June 2017 Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme {BHESP} held an event to celebrate International Sex Workers Day at BHESP Kasarani offices.

More than 100 sex workers attended the event to honor sex workers and recognize their often exploited working conditions.

“As we celebrate International Sex Workers Day lets channel our energies towards ending stigma and discrimination surrounding sex work,” said BHESP Executive Director Peninah Mwangi.

Mwangi added that if sex workers are to enjoy fair and just working conditions, sex work needs to be fully decriminalized.

“We want laws in Kenya to be refocused on making sex workers lives safer and improving the relationship they have with the law enforcers,” she held.

Echoing Mwangi’s sentiments, Kenya Sex Workers Alliance national coordinator Phelister Abdalla said the event is very important as it’s celebrated globally and appreciated sex workers for coming out openly calling for the decriminalization of sex work.


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