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Tailored Conventional Interventions Needed to Curb HIV Increase in Fishing Communities

Transactional sexual relationships were prevalent in fishing communities with over 34 per cent of men and 24 per cent of women had engaged in transactional sex. Of these only 41 percent of women and 44 percent of men reported condom use during transactional sex.

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Uganda needs to design a tailored conventional intervention to match the socio cultural context in fishing communities against HIV.

 

A 2013 study in six fishing districts found that knowledge of HIV transmission does not translate into safer sexual behavior throughout the fishing communities.

 

The study was carried out by the International Organisation for Immigration entitled ‘HIV Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices and Population Size Estimates of Fisher Folk.”

 

It was noted that misconceptions about HIV and AIDS still prevail to unacceptably high levels. While such high levels of awareness may be suggestive of effective interventions thus far, the persistent misconceptions indicate potential limitation of conventional approaches being implemented nationwide.

 

Of the 1971 respondents 43percent of the men were working as fishermen, and 24 per cent as fish mongers. About 27.3 per cent of the women were fishmongers, 20 per cent were traders, managing shops or touting local merchandise.

 

The study found that people living in fishing communities had their first sexual intercourse at 15 years for women while a man is at 16 years.

 

Transactional sexual relationships were prevalent in fishing communities with over 34 per cent of men and 24 per cent of women had engaged in transactional sex. Of these only 41 percent of women and 44 percent of men reported condom use during transactional sex.

 

Thus, there remains a need to tailor conventional interventions to the socio-cultural context in fishing communities.

 

Dr Bernadette Sebaduka a Migration Health Officer at IOM says this calls for tailored conventional interventions to benefit the fishing communities. 

 

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There are approximately 130,000 people that live within fishing communities in Uganda. These communities support one of Uganda’s most important and productive industries and at the same time provide income for some of Uganda’s poorest citizens.

                      

Gerard Waite, the Chief of Mission IOM Uganda, says any interventions must be structured taking into consideration that fisherfolk are highly mobile given that much of the work is seasonal and necessitates moving within various landing sites.

 

He adds that work in the fishing industry is unpredictable, cash based, hard and frequently dangerous.

 

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The study focused on perceived vulnerability and risk reduction strategies in fishing communities in Arua, Apac, Kasese, Masaka, Rakai and Wakiso districts.

 

Fishing communities represent one of the most marginalized and poverty stricken populations within the country.

 

While this study does not present new data on the issue of prevalence, the study is driven by recent studies which indicate that the rates of HIV prevalence within fishing communities is three to four times that of the general population.

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