Dismantling the barriers to HIV testing and treatment

Dismantling the barriers to HIV testing and treatment

The challenges Kenya faces

In Kenya, 1.6 million people are living with HIV. And, every year, an estimated 71,000 new infections occur. One-third of the newly infected people belong to key populations, including sex workers and men who have sex with men.


Sex workers are more vulnerable to HIV

Sex workers are more vulnerable to HIV. Yet, in Kenya, they face huge barriers to HIV prevention, testing and treatment services. Both male and female sex workers face stigma and discrimination, in their communities and in healthcare settings. They are at constant risk of having their human rights violated.


Making strides

In spite of the challenges, the situation in Kenya is steadily improving. Thanks to the joint efforts of sex worker organisations, barriers to HIV services are being dismantled.


Overcoming the challenges

HOYMAS, initiated by Kenyan male sex workers living with HIV, launched the first ever government recognised community-led clinic in Kenya. Such recognition has been key in giving HOYMAS an official voice to hold the government accountable for delivering services to at-risk groups.

The HOYMAS clinic ensures that male sex workers have access to quality HIV testing, treatment and care services in an environment free of stigma and discrimination. HOYMAS has also successfully advocated for government HIV programmes tailored to the needs of at-risk groups, such as men who have sex with men.


HOYMAS reaches out to male sex workers and men who have sex with men, offering quality HIV and other STI prevention, treatment and care services, education on human rights, and economic empowerment. The organisation also advocates for better healthcare and the upholding of human rights.


HOYMAS is a member of KESWA, the umbrella organisation of Kenyan sex worker-led groups. Collaboration significantly increases the impact of their work. Since 2016, both organisations have been Bridging the Gaps partners through the Aidsfonds sex work programme.

HIV testing and treatment
A stigma-free clinic for HIV testing
HIV testing and treatment
A stigma-free clinic for HIV testing

The impact of HOYMAS’ work

The Kenyan government now better understands the relationship between public health and respect for human rights in HIV programming for at-risk groups. That’s why organisations like HOYMAS have become actively involved in the design and implementation of national HIV programmes.


The Kenyan government involves key populations in HIV programmes

In the past few years, a strong sex worker movement has emerged in Kenya. Sex worker organisations’ advocacy work and participation in HIV programming contribute to a reduction in HIV rates and improvement in the health status of those infected.

HOYMAS has become a learning ground and example for organisations around the world. Since 2014, over 240 sex workers from 25 countries have visited HOYMAS through the Sex Worker Academy Africa, initiated by the African Sex Workers Alliance (ASWA) and the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP).


HOYMAS’ achievements – striking figures for 2016 and 2017

  • 5,511 sex workers were reached with different services, such as HIV testing, education, legal support and counselling.
  • 728 sex workers received ART, STI and TB treatment.
  • 323 sex workers used legal support services.
  • 591 service providers were trained.
  • 292 human rights violations were acted upon.
HIV testing and treatment HIV testing and treatment

Health Options for Young Men on HIV, AIDS and STIs (HOYMAS): www.hoymas.org.ke


Friday November 16, activists and NGOs will be silent in solidarity with those who are silenced, as part of the ‘Together we speak’ campaign.   In the run up Aidsfonds highlights stories of communities who fight for access to healthcare, including HIV treatment. This is the story of HOYMAS.

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