Report shows high use of alcohol in Kenya gays

Medical experts have reported high use of alcohol among gays in Nairobi, Kisumu and at the Coast and want more resources set aside to alleviate the growing problem

A study involving 1,476 gays and bisexuals from the three regions shows 44 per cent are in hazardous alcohol use, 51 per cent in problematic substance use while a third are depressed.

The study carried out by the Kenya Medical Research Institute, US, UK and Canadian universities and the University of Nairobi also reported a majority in the study group, 932 or 63 per cent, to be involved in commercial sex work.

Of the total 537, were from Nairobi, 241 from coastal Kenya, and 698 from Kisumu with 19 per cent being HIV positive.

The group of gays involved in commercial sex work the report says were likely to be into high alcohol use which is mainly part of their work due to meeting of clients in bars.

The 44 per cent prevalence of hazardous alcohol use among the gays, the researchers say is higher than the 5.8 per cent prevalence reported for men in the general Kenyan population

“Given the health effects of alcohol and substance use we suggest that interventions to address these problems and underlying factors be put into place,” plead the authors.

Similarly, the report says the 31 per cent rate of depression in this group is also much higher than the 4.4 per cent prevalence found in the general population of Kenyan males.

The experts attribute these high rates of alcohol, substance use and depression among gays in Kenya mainly to abuse in childhood or recent adult trauma or abuse.

The report indicates in Kenya because of stigma and criminalization of gays, they are exposed to high rates of  violence from clients, community and law enforcers.

“The illegality of same-sex behavior, which provides a license to harass and discriminate, is unacceptable,” says the study published in July in the Journal AIDS and mainly funded by USAID.

GATONYE GATHURA

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