Young women and girls’ age 13 to 27 years in low resource settings in Rift Valley Kenya are forced to take up sex work for survival. These young women and girls who are then referred as Young Female Sex Workers (YFSW) are in some cases children of sex workers, orphaned girls driven to sex work/ transactional sex for survival, children from poor families, former married adolescents from failed forced marriages, former street youth, young mothers driven away from home and school for conceiving, and school drop-outs. Dropping out of school ensures a life of poverty for these girls, and many of them also wind up HIV-positive because the male-female power dynamics become even more slanted against them.” They are sexually naïve and have low knowledge levels or skills in prevention.
Many young female sex workers engage in transactional sex in places like bars and discos, and because they consider their clients to be “boyfriends,” will not use protection. Because of their low levels of education they are relatively unaware of risk factors and will not have access family planning services, and so many end up getting pregnant and have to procure back-street abortions that further complicate their sexual and reproductive health issues. Young female sex workers have limited access to quality health care services occasioned by various barriers that are organizational (i.e. issues related to health facilities and service providers attitudes towards sexually active young people especially girls), social (i.e. stigma, beliefs, ignorance and myths) and economic (i.e. user fees, cost of drugs and cost of transport to facilities).
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