Fake husbands go for HIV tests in Uganda

In Uganda, many men have such a fear of being tested for HIV they are going to extreme lengths to avoid finding out their status, often to the detriment of their wives and children.

In Uganda, many men have such a fear of being tested for HIV they are going to extreme lengths to avoid finding out their status, often to the detriment of their wives and children.

The problem is all too evident in Soroti district, where health workers have discovered that some women take pseudo husbands to attend antenatal clinics instead of their real husbands.

Charles Okolong, HIV counsellor from Soroti district and working with The Aids Support Organization, said: “Men usually refuse to accompany their wives to antenatal clinics as they don’t want to be tested for HIV when the need arises. They fear having an HIV test. But they don’t know the risk of failing to get tested for HIV, TB and malaria, which are diseases that can kill if they go untreated.”

Children put at risk of HIV

Another counsellor at the same organisation Charles Luyooyo says the practice of men not accompanying their wives to antenatal clinics hampers the fight in preventing transmission of HIV from mothers to their children.

In Uganda it is now mandatory for pregnant women to test for HIV when they visit a health facility in order to ascertain their status and provide access to antiretroviral medicine, which is essential in the treatment of HIV.

Despite this a report by UNICEF shows that 92% of pregnant women in Uganda had only one antenatal clinic visit in 2010. It also reported that in 2011 only 50% of expectant mothers living with HIV received treatment to prevent passing HIV to their child.

HIV stigma among men

Men often fear their friends seeing them enter hospitals, clinics and health centres or facilities for an HIV test, yet the benefits are for them as well as their families.

Gabriel Egabu, the health information assistant at Gweri health centre in Soroti district confirms they had registered cases of men avoiding responsibilities of accompanying their wives for antenatal clinics. “I think some men do not look at their women with faithful eyes, truly or they are just irresponsible,” he said.

Richard Elipu, HIV counsellor for Uganda Cares attached to Soroti hospital, says that some men shun accompanying their wives to antenatal clinics for fear it will be discovered they are living with HIV or fear of being caught having multiple wives. There are of course other reasons why men may not make it to the appointments. According to Patrick Eritu, a social worker from a Christian university, as much as he would want to escort his wife to antenatal clinics his busy work schedule doesn’t allow him the time.

Faking an HIV test

Medical officers clearly want people to conduct regular tests, yet even if a husband does attend the clinic with his wife the HIV test may be ineffective due to the habit of some men to take prophylaxis, a day before the test is done.

“Any man who swallows Septrin will not react to a test on the following day. They do it in disguise in order to marry good women or beautiful women yet their HIV status is not disclosed,” said Dennis Okello, a farmer from Kumi district.

Although some couples test for HIV before marriage many others do not. But women and men living with HIV who use antiretroviral can remain healthy showing no symptoms of the disease and it is possible to marry someone without knowing their status. The question is, whether it will become a policy to ensure people get tested before they marry.

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 2
  • comment-avatar

    Moi this really nice . Thanks alot for bringing this to light. I think, its high time men should wake up and be men enough to take responsibility and own up to this challenge.

  • comment-avatar
    obmode 5 years

    people have been faking AIDS for the lawsuit settlements for misdiagnosis – http://www.facebook.com/hivquestions