New Internationalist

HIV positive couples paired-up for marriage

Nigeria’s Bauchi State is acting as a “dating agency” by arranging for HIV+ people to meet each other with the aim of getting married and reducing the spread of HIV.

Around 70 couples have been matched up in the last few weeks, Bauchi state authorities told the BBC. Authorities in the state say they are trying to stop HIV spreading and battle the “isolation and stigma” of the disease.

I wouldn’t argue against battling the “isolation and stigma” attached to HIV but this is not the way, and I find it hard to believe that there is no coercion involved. The medical information around the transmission of the virus between positive couples is complex and constantly changing so it is really impossible to say accurately that having unprotected sex between committed couples is safe. On the contrary it gives a sense of being safe and I wonder if there is a split whether couples not practicing safe sex would then suddenly decide to use a condom.

There are real complex issues around the “drug cocktails” such as resistance, side effects and the need to change drugs from time to time plus the implications for getting pregnant for both mother and baby. The more I think about this the worse it seems as it leads both the couples and everyone else thinking everything is OK when in fact it is not. It is deceitful on the part of Bauchi State to lead couples into believing this is to their benefit and is an appropriate HIV prevention policy.

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About the author

Sokari Ekine a New Internationalist contributor

Sokari Ekine is a Nigerian social justice activist and blogger. She writes an awardwinning blog, Black Looks, which she started in 2004, writing on a range of topics such as LGBTI Rights in Africa, gender issues, human rights, the Niger Delta, Haiti and Land Rights. She is a IRP 2013 Fellow.

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