Prostitutes 'play risk lottery'
Toronto - Child prostitutes in Kenya play a risky lottery with HIV infection, seeing up to five partners a night and using condoms only 60% of the time, says a United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) researcher.
The glimpse into child prostitution in Kenya was presented by the Unicef at the 16th International Aids Conference, and lifted the veil on a world previously closed to researchers working on the global HIV epidemic.
Researchers found that a "significantly higher" proportion of child prostitutes in Kenya reported having anal sex than did their adult counterparts, mostly to preserve their virginity or because clients demanded it.
Girls have 5 partners a night
Catherine Sarah Jones, a researcher for Unicef, said: "This, along with the frequency of sexual encounters was very bothersome.
"Very young children (11 to 14 years old) were having four or five partners in a night. In terms of risk, it's no good if you're using condoms only 60% of the time."
According to the survey, only 65% of child prostitutes in Kenya used condoms compared with 75% of adult sex workers. The survey looked at child prostitution across several regions of the country.
Jones said many were "casual" sex workers, and so they didn't receive the same access to HIV prevention information as adults.
According to Jones, the audacity of youth combined with thrill-seeking sex tourists meant condoms were used less often, and child prostitutes had a greater chance of HIV infection.
Tourists 'pay for sex'
She said: "Adolescents are by nature risk-takers and sex tourists are risk-takers. There is something about travelling to somewhere exotic that encourages risky behaviour. It's a coincidence that's important."
The study also found that people who paid for sex with children in Kenya were not exclusively sex tourists from abroad, but included foreign soldiers, businessmen and many Kenyans themselves.
The complete study was expected to be released later this year and help form global policies to combat child prostitution.
Jones said: "I believe this is the first time that there has been any quantifiable data on child prostitution.
"Kenya will be the first country to say, 'We know it's happening, we know the extent, we know the circumstances of the children and we also know in a limited way what the client base is'."