An African gay community association has raised the alarm over soaring rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
According to the Kenya Youth Development and Education Support Association, a worrying number of people are being treated for STIs in gay-friendly clinics.
The association’s chairperson, Anderson Mwangi, said that STI rates among gay people are worse in urban centres.
“The gay-friendly clinics on our database are reporting alarming numbers,” he said.
“Our data shows that out of every ten gay people seeking treatment in our clinics, six are battling some STI.”
Mwangi noted that the increased STI rates among gay people suggest a lack of knowledge on safer sex methods among the community.
“The majority of them engage in casual sex and have multiple partners, which is very dangerous,” he said.
The association said that fear to seek treatment is also a contributing factor to the increased STI spread among the gay community in Kenya.
“Because of homophobia, many fear seeking help from a government health facility, while others fail to seek treatment out of shame and for reasons of not having money,” said a spokesperson.
In the capital city of Nairobi, gay-friendly clinics are reportedly treating at least 2,000 STIs every month.
Mombasa City has the highest rate of STIs among gay people, at 3,000 monthly.
Other cities recording high numbers of STIs among gay people include Thika, Nyeri, Kiambu, Nakuru, Kisumu, and Kakamega.
Nelbert Ngige is among the many being treated for an STI in Nairobi.
“I’m a gay sex worker, and most of my clients refuse to use protection,” he said.
“Infections are common in this field.”
Ngige added that the majority of local gay people were not ready to open to their partners about STIs and could end up infecting them.
To help remedy the situation, the Kenya Youth Development and Education Support Association has initiated safer sex training clinics for the community across the major urban centres in the country.
At the same time, the association is providing free condoms and lubricants to gay people who cannot afford them.
In partnership with gay-friendly clinics, the association is also providing free treatment for STIs.