Health and Economic Outcomes Associated with COVID-19 in Women at High Risk of HIV Infection in Rural Kenya

June 17, 2021

Nolan M. Kavanagh, MPH; Noora Marcus, MA; Risper Bosire, MA et al.

JAMA Network

This study assessed economic and food security, health, and sexual behavior (including transactional sex), of HIV negative women at high risk of HIV infection in rural Kenya, before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data was collected via phone interviews which took place between May and June 2020, alongside longitudinal, in-person surveys conducted between September 2019 and March 2020. 1725 women took part in the study, with a mean age of 29 years. 68% of women reported sex work as an income source. The results showed that during the pandemic, 80% of women reported difficulty obtaining food in the past month, and 87% worried about having enough to eat at least once. Numbers of sexual partners declined from a mean total of 1.8 partners before to 1.1 during the pandemic. Transactional sex partners declined from 1.0 to 0.5. Decline in employment was 4.6 hours greater than women not reliant on transactional sex. Women reliant on transactional sex for income were 18% more likely to report being worried about household food supply than women who were not. The study highlights the association between COVID-19 and economic insecurity for marginalized populations within LMICs, especially sex workers, and the importance of mitigating inequitable outcomes of COVID-19 for these populations.

Kavanagh NM, Marcus N, Bosire R, et al. Health and Economic Outcomes Associated With COVID-19 in Women at High Risk of HIV Infection in Rural Kenya. JAMA Netw Open 2021; 4: e2113787.

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