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Friday, 07 September 2018 11:52

Working with sex workers in Nairobi

The University of Leicester in its 2018 round of International Development Research Fund resources funded a pilot project facilitated by Professor Teela Sanders (Department of Criminology) with the NGO Bar Hostesses Empowerment and Support project (BHESP). The project is pre-work for a much larger research programme which has been sent to the GCRF for consideration which will create a skills programme for young women working in the sex industry.

The pilot project has taken just 5 months from inception to analysis and presentation, assisted by an excellent project manager in Nairobi, Raham Hassan and a team of five co-researchers from the sex work community. These women were hired and trained as researchers in May to conduct a face to face survey with sex workers.

Young girls have been urged to consistently and correctly use and adhere to their Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP} drugs in order to avert new HIV infections.

Speaking during her 37th birthday celebrations at Huruma, Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme {BHESP} paralegal Mary Mugure said young girls are lucky to have PrEP which is very important in HIV prevention.

PrEP is when people at very high risk for HIV take HIV medicines daily to lower their chances of getting infected. PrEP can stop HIV from taking hold and spreading throughout your body.

Mugure noted that PrEP, which can lower the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90%, is exceedingly effective for averting HIV if used as prescribed, but it is much less effective when not taken consistently.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018 14:19

LIVING POSITIVE: JANET’S STORY

Learning that you are HIV positive can be the most difficult experience one can go through in life.  You may get scared, angry or even sad but that is all normal as it is a way of coping with something that can be life-changing.

Being HIV positive does not stop one from living a normal happy life, especially if one follows the treatment regimen prescribed by the doctor. This is a life experience of Janet*, a female sex worker operating in Nairobi.

“At one time I got very sick and could not leave the house. My neighbors used to talk behind my back saying that I will die until one brave woman approached me and told me to go to the hospital,” Reckons 40-year-old Janet*.

Dressed in a red sweater, a short black skirt and lip glossed lips, Janet explains that when she got to the hospital the doctor advised her to get an HIV test which she voluntarily agreed.

“Here is where the truth that I was running away from became a reality. The test confirmed that I was HIV positive and I was suffering from Herpes zoster,” she says with her eyes filled with tears.

At this point, she saw the whole world crumbling down, shock, fear, and gloom flooded her in rapid succession consequently burying herself into alcoholism.

A total of 221 adolescents girls and young women were reached with HIV prevention messages at BHESP’s exhibition at the Colour Purple concert at Uhuru Gardens.

The event that was graced by Nairobi’s first lady Primrose Mbuvi and Ugandan businesswoman Zari Hassan saw 167 young people receiving HIV testing services while 12 received Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis {PrEP}.

Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme (BHESP) Advocacy team led a group of paralegals and peer educators to clean Dandora police station with an appeal to the law enforcers to address cases of violence meted on sex workers in the area.

BHESP programme manager Simon Mwangi led the team to clean Dandora Police station compound, administration offices and the police officers staff quarters.

Mwangi hoped that the cleaning exercise will help create a good rapport with the law enforcers consequently creating a good working condition with the advocacy team.

KOINANGE STREET


It had taken her colleagues a whole morning to figure out that she had died. The last one to see her alive had parted with her at midnight, when Nyambura got a client on Koinange Street near the Cardinal Otunga Building. Her phone was not going through since dawn.  “I had been calling her in vain because we usually meet, freshen up and leave for home together,” her friend said.
A call from another friend who was coincidentally inquiring about Nyambura’s welfare aroused suspicion since she had heard that a call girl had been killed at a hotel in town. “We decided to go and check the body at the mortuary, and we positively identified her. Police suspect she died from strangulation,” she said.
Outside the mortuary, more women arrived, taking turns to view the body.
“She was murdered,” some whispered to one another as they tried to inquire from her friend the details of the man who picked Nyambura  or  the registration number of his car. But she actually knew nothing, and if her face had any expression, it was one of confusion and self-blame. Nyambura’s death came just a few weeks after that of another sex worker, who was killed in Kayole. The woman was picked by a client at 11pm and her body was later found in a fodder plantation in Ruai.

Hundreds of women gathered at the Huruma Grounds to witness a women football tournament organized by Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme (BHESP) to mark International Women’s Day on Thursday.

The tournament dubbed “Scoring for PrEP” was aimed at creating awareness on how young women can boldly fight HIV through the use of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP).

The one-day tournament brought together 6 women team from Roysambu DIC, Jogoo Road DIC, Kariobangi DIC, Knight Nurse, Sex Worker Outreach Programme (SWOP) and Kenya Sex Workers Alliance (KESWA).

Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme (BHESP) has trained 150 peer educators on key populations size estimation and mapping in order to better plan HIV prevention interventions.

The 2-day sensitization training, that was held at Blue Springs Hotel, equipped peer educators with the knowledge to identify behavioral risk factors among female sex workers and their clients.

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.

Monday, 22 January 2018 13:12

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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Mirema Stone Groove

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