Fishing in Dangerous Waters: Ecology, Gender and Economy in HIV Risk

Sanyu A. Mojola, University of Colorado at Boulder

This paper uses a qualitative case study of the fishing industry in Nyanza province, Kenya, to highlight two perhaps underemphasized aspects of the HIV epidemic: (1) that ecology and the physical environment matter in health outcomes, and (2) that the gendered structure of local economies can have consequences for individual health outcomes. The paper first presents theoretical background, followed by a description of the data, setting and methods. I then discuss Lake Victoria and its physical environment, both as experienced by the Luo, as well as discussed in the ecological literature. I then turn to exploring the fishing occupation and the lives of fishermen and show how their sexual relationships and sexual mixing patterns were as much a function of the changing ecological environment in which they fished, as they were about the gendered structure of the fishing economy.

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Presented in Session 84: Gender, Sexual Behavior and HIV/STIs