Men, Women, and HIV in Uganda

Gender is a huge factor in the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and perhaps nowhere more so than in sub-Saharan Africa.  These two articles discuss two gender-related issues Ugandan leaders and health workers are dealing with.

1.  This article deals with the problem of HIV transmission within serodiscordant couples.  According to Uganda-based New Vision, “A spouse who knowingly conceals his or her HIV/AIDS status and infects the partner should be prosecuted, a High Court judge has suggested. … Justice David Wangutusi said the sentence for such people should be harsh to deter other likely offenders.”

This type of policy could provide a significant legal recourse for married women, some of whom may have little power in their relationships.  According to the acticle, Justice Wangutusi said that despite the theoretical gender equality provided by Uganda’s constitution, “there still exists beliefs, traditions, customs and attitudes that prevent the translation of abstract rights in the law into substantive rights in reality.”  He also criticized widow inheritence and other practices that promote gender inequality and discrimination.

2.  The author of this opinion piece from a Ugandan paper addresses “Africa’s concern that at grassroots level, men are not as active participants in the fight against the pandemic despite their high potential … [and that] women and children are bearing the burden more even though men are better positioned to mitigate the problem.”

This article (written by J. Nandawula Okumu, Communications Manager for the Christian Children’s Fund Uganda) suggests that HIV+ men may be less likely than women and children to ask for help or seek treatment.  This is especially problematic, the author argues, because “men in many communities have more sexual partners than their women counterparts up to an average of 6.7 partners as opposed to 2.2 partners for women.”  Women, therefore, may be disproportionately affected by men’s responses to their own HIV-status.



~ by h.e.g. on July 1, 2008.

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