Enumeration of Sex Workers in the Central Business District of Nairobi, Kenya

Accurate program planning for populations most at risk for HIV/STI acquisition requires knowledge of the size and location where these populations can best be reached. To obtain this information for sex workers operating at 137 hotspots in the central business district (CBD) in Nairobi, Kenya, we utilized a combined mapping and capture-recapture enumeration exercise. The majority of identified hotspots in this study were bars. Based on this exercise, we estimate that 6,904 male and female sex workers (95% confidence intervals, 6690 and 7118) were working nightly in the Nairobi CBD in April 2009. Wide ranges of captures per spot were obtained, suggesting that relatively few hot spots (18%) contain a relatively high proportion of the area's sex workers (65%). We provide geographic data including relatively short distances from hotspots to our dedicated sex worker outreach program in the CBD (mean<1 km), and clustering of hotspots within a relatively small area. Given the size covered and areas where sex work is likely taking place in Nairobi, the estimate is several times lower than what would be obtained if the entire metropolitan area was enumerated. These results have important practical and policy implications for enhancing HIV/STI prevention efforts.

Formal correction issued November 2013

After the publication of this article, concerns were raised about the inclusion of a figure which reported a map of the Nairobi CBD showing the location of the sex worker hot spots involved in the study and the number captured at each location during the enumeration.

In light of the possible implications that the public availability of this information can have on the Nairobi sex workers, the authors have decided to withdraw this map from the publication. The article has therefore been republished without the original Figure 1.


Year of publication: 
Joshua Kimani and others