Poly-drug use among female and male commercial sex workers visiting a drop in centre in Mombasa County, Kenya
Budambula, Nancy L. M.
Ziro, Onesmus Wanje
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The relationship between commercial sex work and drug use is complex and the two exacerbate each other. In Kenya, Mombasa County has one of the highest populations of drug users and commercial sex workers. Despite documentation of drug use among sex workers, most of the studies are based on self-reported history which is prone to social desirability and memory recall biases. It is in this context that we sought to establish actual drug use is this sub-population. A cross-sectional study was conducted to determine self-reported and confirmed drug use among 224 commercial sex workers accessing services at Mvita Dropin. Actual drug use was determined qualitatively using 6 panel plus alcohol Saliva Test kit. The overall prevalence of self-reported and confirmed current use for at least one drug was 98% and 99% respectively. Regardless of the technique used, alcohol and tobacco products were the most consumed substances. Alcohol use increased significantly with age (P = 0.03). Risk of cigarette use and testing positive for cotinine was higher among those age 18 to 35 years compared to >35years at P = 0.001 and P = 0.002 respectively. Poly-drug use was common with 98% testing positive for more than one drug. The reason for drug use was sex work related pressure (88%) with 60% of the respondents reporting they cannot transact this business without drugs. Almost every commercial sex worker is a poly-drug user. We recommend targeted interventions for commercial sex workers.