The University of Manitoba/University of Nairobi HIV/AIDS collaborative Research Group has been working in Kenya since 1983 under the brand name Kenya AIDS Control Project (KACP). This entity was however not legally constituted and depended wholly on memoranda of understandings that were renewed every 5 years. To conform to the ever changing funding, research and capacity building requirements from donors, the University of Manitoba administrators opted to register an international Non‐Governmental Organization (NGO) in Kenya in 2013. This new vehicle is facilitating expansion of the ongoing research portfolio, scale up the available educational and capacity building opportunities across several universities in the country and enhance Manitoba’s contribution to international development besides providing the required legal status. This NGO; Partners for Health and Development in Africa (PHDA), has since then inherited all of the University of Manitoba supported activities in Kenya.
From the beginning, the University of Manitoba research group (now PHDA) has been working with key populations, specifically low socio‐economic strata female sex workers residing in the informal settlements of Nairobi. The group has been championing HIV prevention and health rights for female sex workers in Kenya despite the unfavourable legal framework since the mid‐80s. Use of peer leaders and peer led networks in community engagement and demand creation for the services on offer has been a key strategy in working with this high risk population. More recently, male sex workers are also supported and involved in research.