Fishing Industry Contributing to Spread of HIV Around Africa's Lake Victoria

The fishing industry and some cultural practices in communities living around Africa's Lake Victoria are contributing to the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections in the area, according to a panel of experts at a recent meeting in Kisumu, Kenya, The Citizen reports. According to the panel, cultural practices such as widow inheritance, commercial sex work for fish and the long-distance trucking industry have led to the spread of HIV/AIDS. HIV/AIDS prevalence among women and people who live along the beaches of the lake is particularly high, the meeting participants noted.

The four-day meeting was held by the Lake Victoria Basin Commission and involved members of the East African Community and other officials. Meeting delegates were taken to cross-border control posts along the Kenya-Uganda border to interact with people living with HIV/AIDS, commercial sex workers, long-distance truck drivers and district government officials. Doreen Othero, HIV/AIDS technical specialist at the LVBC Secretariat, said that the group "managed to bring together organizations working in HIV/AIDS along transport corridors to share information, improve coordination and build synergy among the various programs so as to have maximum impact on the corridors' most at risk populations."

Jean Claude Nsengiyumva, EAC deputy secretary general in charge of productive and social sectors, said that the fight against HIV/AIDS will be successful through a coordinated and collaborative effort among all stakeholders. He said that EAC has introduced a four-year Regional Multisectorial HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan, ending in 2012, that aims to address HIV/AIDS in the region. The region also is undergoing efforts to create more collaboration between regional, international and multisectorial organizations that have projects for HIV/AIDS education, care, treatment and testing. Othero said there are more than four million HIV-positive people and more than 3.5 million orphans and vulnerable children in EAC partner states (The Citizen, 5/27).

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