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“If you start thinking positively, you won’t miss sex”: Narratives of sexual (in)activity among People Living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHAs) in Nairobi’s informal settlements

Chi-Chi Undie, African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC)
Abdhalah K Ziraba, African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC)
John Kebaso, African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC)
Elizabeth W Kimani-Murage, University of the Witwatersrand
Nyovani Madise, University of Southampton

This paper examines the intersection between ARV treatment, poverty, and sex/sexual behavior within two urban informal settlements in Kenya. Semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted with approximately 50 participants to understand their general experiences as people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in urban slums. The complexities surrounding the negotiation of sex and sexuality emerged as a recurrent theme among ARV recipients. The discourses and descriptions of lived experiences emanating from the study suggest that PLWHAs in urban poor settings are situated in a perpetual tug-of-war between local aid agencies and medical practitioners (who frame sex/sexual behavior by PLWHA as negative and harmful) and current or potential sexual relationships (for which abstaining from sex can also have negative and harmful implications). Furthermore, the data presented highlight the need in African settings to engage with sexuality in a way that goes beyond its linkages with disease, and incorporates its other positive aspects.

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Presented in Session 82: Sexuality in the African context