AFRICA: Sharing more than just the matrimonial bed

Published on Reuters, 20 June 2007. (First on IRIN news).

2 excerpts: It’s not cheap motels or the back seats of cars but the marriage bed where the new high-risk sex takes place in Uganda, delegates attending a conference on scaling up AIDS services, held in Kigali, Rwanda, heard this week.

Dr David Apuuli, director-general of the Uganda AIDS Commission, warned that marital sex accounted for 42 percent of new infections as the country’s prevalence rate begins to climb after years of stagnation.

AIDS policymakers are now turning their attention to the phenomenon of HIV discordant couples – where one partner is HIV-positive and the other negative. Preventing HIV transmission among these couples, when most are unaware of their status, has become a critical new area of focus …

… Could it be non-sexual transmission? “Is it that women are more likely using unsafe medical injections? Could it be that? Is it because women are exposed to unsafe health practices during delivery or childbirth? We do not find any correlations to support this hypothesis,” he stated.

Rebecca Bunnell, of the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Kenya, called for more research before any conclusions were reached, and suggested that the rates of infection in young women, which were three to 10 times higher than those of men, still needed to be fully accounted for.

“We really need to look at the data objectively, without making it a gender issue, without making it a blame game,” Mishra said. “[Let's] see the data and see how best to design the programmes.”

(full text).

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