Recent Findings

Incidence and risk factors for sexual assault among MSM and young women in Coastal Kenya

The KEMRI Wellcome Trust Programme researchers have been for the past 10 years studying how rape among sex workers and men who have sex with men presents direct and indirect risks for HIV transmission.

The Data gathered at the KEMRI Wellcome Trust Mtwapa will be presented at the CROI international conference in Seattle. We present data on sexual assault and HIV incidence from 10 years of follow up including over 700 men who have sex with men (MSM) and 370 female sex workers (FSW) living and working on the coast of Kenya. In Kenya, these key populations are known to be vulnerable in the countries HIV epidemic, but service responses are challenging due to criminalisation of sex work and same sex behaviour, homophobia and public antipathy toward these groups.

We found that MSM reported a very similar incidence of rape to FSW (3.7% and 4.5% annual risk respectively). The incidence of physical assault and verbal abuse against MSM was considerably higher. Most perpetrators of rape were known to the victim of assault, but MSMs were more often assaulted by random members of the public than FSWs were.

These first data on the incidence of rape among MSM in Kenya suggest that the need for post-rape care is likely similar to that among FSW.  This may need to involve health interventions such as post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV transmission and to support mental health as well as access to broader social and legal support.