In Nyanza Province, Kenya, HIV incidence is highest (26.2%) in the beach communities along Lake Victoria. Prior research documented high mobility and HIV risks among fishermen; mobility patterns and HIV risks faced by women in fishing communities are less well researched.
This study aimed to characterize forms of mobility among women in the fish trade in Nyanza; describe the spatial and social features of beaches; and assess characteristics of the "sex-for-fish" economy and its implications for HIV prevention. We used qualitative methods, including participant observation in 6 beach villages and other key destinations in the Kisumu area of Nyanza that attract female migrants, and we recruited individuals for in-depth semi-structured interviews at those destinations.
We interviewed 40 women, of whom 18 were fish traders, and 15 men, of whom 7 were fishermen. Data were analyzed using Atlas.ti software. We found that female fish traders are often migrants to beaches; they are also highly mobile. They are at high risk of HIV acquisition and transmission via their exchange of sex for fish with jaboya fishermen.