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Women call for law on HIV status
The Herald (Zimbabwe)
May 19, 2005

WOMEN have urged the Government to come up with legislation that compels spouses to reveal their HIV status to each other.

The Sexual Offences Act does not provide for the revealing of oneís status to his/her partner.

Speaking at a meeting on gender violence and human rights in Harare this week, several women said it was dangerous that a married personís HIV status be considered private and confidential.

"When a man is treated for a sexually transmitted disease, health workers are is quick to inform him to bring his wife along to be treated.

"The same should be done in the case of HIV. We have many men who are HIV positive and as women we are sitting ducks for whatever they want to bring into the home," said one woman.

Another woman who identified herself as Mrs Mandaza said a woman should know her partnerís status so that she could make wise decisions for the future.

"You can then find out your own status and practice safe sex to ensure that you do not get infected if you are negative and re-infected if you are positive," one female journalist said.

Some women, who live in the rural areas while their husbands are away at work in the urban areas, continue to have unprotected sex with their HIV positive spouses out of ignorance. Even if they are suspicious of the behaviour of their husbands, society does not permit them to deny them their conjugal rights and they are not even empowered enough to advocate for the use of condoms.

Participants at the meeting said most of these women only find out that their husbands were infected when they fall sick before going to the rural areas to be nursed.

Among those who attended the meeting was the Deputy Minister of Womenís Affairs, Gender and Community Development Cde Abigail Damasane.

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