A study among homosexuals will be conducted in Kenya, where the government plans to use the findings to help control the spread of HIV/AIDS.
The research by the National AIDS/STD Control Programme (NASCOP) is to begin in December or next January, the group's director Nicholas Muraguri told AFP.
"From the studies it appears that 15 percent of the new HIV infections are attributed to gays. We can make much noise about them but we cannot ignore them," he said.
The study will seek to determine the latest population of gays -- currently estimated to be around 10,000 in the capital Nairobi and the coastal city of Mombasa -- along with the rate of HIV infection among them and statistics on their use of condoms.
Through anonymous questionnaires to be distributed in selected places or by a peer network, respondents will also be asked how many partners they have and offered voluntary AIDS testing.
"It is the first time in Africa that a government is taking a leadership to deal with population at risk," Muraguri said.
NASCOP stressed that the identity of people who become involved in the programme will remain confidential.
In Kenya, as in much of Africa, homosexual acts are criminal.