Background In Kasensero fishing community, home of the first recorded case of HIV in Uganda, HIV transmission is still very high with an incidence of 4.3 and 3.1 per 100 person-years in women and men, respectively, and an HIV prevalence of 44%, reaching up to 74% among female sex workers. We explored drivers for the high HIV transmission at Kasensero from the perspective of fishermen and other community members to inform future policy and preventive interventions. Methods 20 in-depth interviews including both HIV positive and HIV negative respondents, and 12 focus-group discussions involving a total of 92 respondents from the Kasensero fishing community were conducted during April-September 2014. Content analysis was performed to identify recurrent themes. Results The socio-economic risk factors for high HIV transmission in Kasensero fishing community cited were multiple and cross-cutting and categorized into the following themes: power of money, risk denial, environmental triggers and a predisposing lifestyle and alcoholism and drug abuse. Others were: peer pressure, poor housing and the search for financial support for both the men and women which made them vulnerable to HIV exposure and or risk behavior. Conclusions There is a need for context specific combination prevention interventions in Kasensero that includes the fisher folk and other influential community leaders. Such groups could be empowered with the knowledge and social mobilization skills to fight the negative and risky behaviors, perceptions, beliefs, misconceptions and submission attitudes to fate that exposes the community to high HIV transmission. There is also need for government/partners to ensure effective policy implementation, life jackets for all fishermen, improve the poor housing at the community so as to reduce overcrowding and other housing related predispositions to high HIV rates at the community. Work place AIDS-competence teams have been successfully used to address high HIV transmission in similar settings. This is an open access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.
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