Male sex work in Nigeria: a population-based estimate of a hidden and vulnerable population

Published: July 22, 2010

Male sex work in Nigeria: a population-based estimate of a hidden and vulnerable population

A. Karlyn1, S. Adebajo2, E. Nwachukwo2, J. Tocco3, L. Abiodun4, O. Anene5, D. Ojiyoma6, S. Sangowawa4, S. Kellerman7,8

1Population Council, HIV, Washington, United States, 2Population Council Nigeria, Abuja, Nigeria, 3University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, United States, 4Population Council Nigeria, Lagos, Nigeria, 5Male Action Network, Abuja, Nigeria, 6The Independent Project (TIP) for Equal Rights- Nigeria, Lagos, Nigeria, 7At Time of Study, Population Council, New York, United States, 8Management Science for Health, Arlington, United States

Background: Male sex workers (MSWs) are a highly marginalised population in Nigeria. Stigma, secrecy, and HIV risk are highly associated with this lifestyle. In Nigeria, studies show HIV prevalence for MSM at 13.5%, and over 30% among the subset of MSWs. Little is known about the locations and size of this population; information necessary to shape interventions and conduct effective advocacy with policy-makers and practitioners.
Methods: A population-based enumeration of MSW using the ‘capture-recapture’ methodology was conducted in 2 Nigerian cities, Lagos and Kano, in 2009. Two teams of field enumerators known to the MSM community mapped hotspots where MSW and clients congregate on two successive weekend nights over a one-week interval. Enumerators approached consenting individuals in the locations and inquired if he accepts money or goods in exchange for sex with another man. If yes, a key chain ‘tag’ was offered. The same procedure was followed on the subsequent visit, allowing the team to determine the number of new “captures” and repeat “recaptures” per location.
Results: On any given Friday night in Lagos, an estimated 865 (95% CI: 707-1023) men are willing to engage in sex for money or goods with other men. In Kano on any given Saturday night, 641 (95% CI: 577-705) men are willing to engage in sex for money or goods with other men.
Conclusions: MSWs are a visible and significant community in Nigeria. With careful planning and sensitive intervention strategies, MSW can be effectively engaged through prevention, care and support programs. However, location-based MSW studies capture only part of the picture. Further in-depth study is needed to engage this community effectively.

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