Jacent is a 40-year-old primary school teacher and a resident of Buwunga Sub-county, Masaka District, who went for HIV testing to ascertain her status in 2009. On finding out that she was positive, Jacent enrolled for ARVs at Uganda Cares Clinic in Masaka and has undergoing medication ever since.
However, she says her husband has refused to go for treatment after realising that he, too, was infected. Jacent says her husband is putting her life and that of their four children at risk, after he refused to follow her advice and use a condom as she was instructed by the counsellors.
“Every night, I am sexually harassed because he does not want to use condoms,” she said.
As a mother, she is worried that if she died now, no body would take care of her school-going children.
Jacent is one of more than 1,000 women living with HIV enrolled to acquire ARVs in Masaka District, who are complaining about their husbands that force them to have unprotected sex. The women fear that this may lead them to acquire more HIV-positive strains.
The women, who are undergoing treatment at Uganda Cares Clinic, formally made the complaint to the District Speaker, Ms Phoebe Kyewalyanga, on Thursday last week. Apart from the risk of reinfection, the women pointed out that unprotected sex also carries the risk of an unwanted pregnancy.
In her response, Ms Kyewalyanga concurred with the aggrieved women, saying a man who forces his wife to have unprotected sex should be punished by law. “As women we are mentally tortured. If our husbands refuse to use condoms, it is an offence of assault which needs to be addressed by the law,” she said.
The District Health Officer, Dr Stuart Musisi, confirmed to Daily Monitor that in the event of both husband and wife being already infected with virus, it is possible to get re-infected with another strain of the virus.
Dr Musisi warned that the HIV strain of a person, who is not on treatment, may be more aggressive than that of one on medication, adding that the strain could be resistant to ARVs. He also said HIV is transmitted from men to women much more easily than the other way round and re-infection can easily cause the drug regimen to stop working.
“The ARVs reduce the viral-load hence reduction of the risk of HIV transmission. But if the HIV positive person is not on ARVs, the transmission rate is very high,” Dr Musisi noted. The HIV prevalence rate in Masaka District as of the year 2011/2012 is at 12 per cent which is higher than that of the entire country that stands at 7.3.