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Fishing in dangerous waters: Ecology, gender and economy in HIV risk

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  • Mojola, Sanyu A.

Abstract

This paper focuses on a neglected factor in literature on the HIV epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa: the role of the eco-social environment in shaping HIV risk. I argue that the changing ecological environment of Lake Victoria, Africa's largest freshwater lake, mapping onto a gendered economy, shaped fisherfolk's sexual relationships and sexual mixing patterns in ways that were consequential for their HIV risk. Specifically, I show how disrupted lake and fish ecology had an impact on fishermen's sexual, domestic and economic partnerships, as well as how it contributed to the "sex for fish" economy in Nyanza Province, Kenya. I also show the consequences of fishermen's relative wealth on transactional relationships with school girls and women in lakeside communities. The paper is based on ethnographic fieldwork over a seven month period among the Luo ethnic group, which has the highest HIV rates in Kenya. The study included 74 individual and focus group interviews in communities around Lake Victoria, as well as 20 key informant interviews. Additionally, literature reviews on fishing and sexual economies as well as on ecological research in Lake Victoria are employed. Exploring linkages between these literatures and fieldwork findings forms the basis of this paper. I argue that solely focusing on individual level HIV prevention strategies is limited without taking into account the eco-social context of individual sexual decision making.

Suggested Citation

  • Mojola, Sanyu A., 2011. "Fishing in dangerous waters: Ecology, gender and economy in HIV risk," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 149-156, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:72:y:2011:i:2:p:149-156
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Luke, Nancy, 2006. "Exchange and Condom Use in Informal Sexual Relationships in Urban Kenya," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(2), pages 319-348, January.
    2. Poulin, Michelle, 2007. "Sex, money, and premarital partnerships in southern Malawi," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 65(11), pages 2383-2393, December.
    3. Campbell, Catherine, 1997. "Migrancy, masculine identities and AIDS: The psychosocial context of HIV transmission on the South African gold mines," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 273-281, July.
    4. Béné, Christophe & Merten, Sonja, 2008. "Women and Fish-for-Sex: Transactional Sex, HIV/AIDS and Gender in African Fisheries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(5), pages 875-899, May.
    5. Peter J. Glick & David E. Sahn, 2008. "Are Africans Practicing Safer Sex? Evidence from Demographic and Health Surveys for Eight Countries," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56, pages 397-439.
    6. MacPhail, Catherine & Campbell, Catherine, 2001. "'I think condoms are good but, aai, I hate those things': : condom use among adolescents and young people in a Southern African township," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 52(11), pages 1613-1627, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mojola, Sanyu A. & Williams, Jill & Angotti, Nicole & Gómez-Olivé, F. Xavier, 2015. "HIV after 40 in rural South Africa: A life course approach to HIV vulnerability among middle aged and older adults," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 143(C), pages 204-212.
    2. Salmen, Charles R. & Hickey, Matthew D. & Fiorella, Kathryn J. & Omollo, Dan & Ouma, Gor & Zoughbie, Daniel & Salmen, Marcus R. & Magerenge, Richard & Tessler, Robert & Campbell, Harold & Geng, Elvin , 2015. "“Wan Kanyakla” (We are together): Community transformations in Kenya following a social network intervention for HIV care," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 147(C), pages 332-340.
    3. Camlin, Carol S. & Kwena, Zachary A. & Dworkin, Shari L. & Cohen, Craig R. & Bukusi, Elizabeth A., 2014. "“She mixes her business”: HIV transmission and acquisition risks among female migrants in western Kenya," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 146-156.
    4. Fiorella, Kathryn J. & Camlin, Carol S. & Salmen, Charles R. & Omondi, Ruth & Hickey, Matthew D. & Omollo, Dan O. & Milner, Erin M. & Bukusi, Elizabeth A. & Fernald, Lia C.H. & Brashares, Justin S., 2015. "Transactional Fish-for-Sex Relationships Amid Declining Fish Access in Kenya," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 323-332.
    5. Stoebenau, Kirsten & Heise, Lori & Wamoyi, Joyce & Bobrova, Natalia, 2016. "Revisiting the understanding of “transactional sex” in sub-Saharan Africa: A review and synthesis of the literature," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 168(C), pages 186-197.
    6. Béné, Christophe & Arthur, Robert & Norbury, Hannah & Allison, Edward H. & Beveridge, Malcolm & Bush, Simon & Campling, Liam & Leschen, Will & Little, David & Squires, Dale & Thilsted, Shakuntala H. &, 2016. "Contribution of Fisheries and Aquaculture to Food Security and Poverty Reduction: Assessing the Current Evidence," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 177-196.
    7. Zhou, Amy, 2016. "The uncertainty of treatment: Women's use of HIV treatment as prevention in Malawi," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 158(C), pages 52-60.

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