Kenya men take to douching, a habit previously only associated with women – new study

By Gatonye Gathura

US medical researchers have reported high rates of rectal douching among men who have sex with men in western Kenya.

The unhealthy habit of douching is usually associated with women but the current research confirms it is common among homosexuals in western Kenya.

In the study among 202 men who have sex with men (MSM) 65 per cent were found to be in the habit of rectal douching.

The National AIDs and STI Control Program estimates there are about 30,000 MSM in Kenya contributing about 15 per cent of all new HIV infections.

HIV prevalence in MSM is estimated at 18.2 per cent, almost four times higher than that of men in the general population.

The new study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Nairobi, Ohio State University US, University of California, US and Impact Research and Development Organization of Kisumu say rectal douching in this group is a matter of health concern.

The study: Correlates of Rectal Douching Practices among Men Who Have Sex with Men in Kenya, was published on Friday (29th June) in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

Using data from health facilities offering services to sex workers, and gays in western Kenya between 2014 and 2016 the researchers found high rates of douching in males.

Rectal douching the researchers say has been associated with high prevalence of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

In this particular group in western Kenya most of the douching men were found to use water solutions which are known to disrupt the rectal lining and increase susceptibility to infection.

Of the 202 MSM in this analysis, 63 per cent engaged in rectal douching.  All who engaged in the habit used water-based substances.

Among MSM who engaged in sex work, those who practiced douching, the report says had more regular clients per week compared to those not douching.

“Rectal douching is common in this population of Kenyan men who have sex with men, especially among those who have recently engaged in commercial sex activities,” says the study.

The researchers suggest the men be provided with douching substances containing microbicides which can protect against HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

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