“This was one of the most challenging situations in my entire life – to choose between walking away from a discordant marriage or staying in this home even when I knew that at any moment my husband could infect me with HIV.” Mbeya Marriam, who is HIV negative, is intimately familiar with the unique challenges of living with a partner who is HIV positive.
Marriam was calm and kind; she was gladly hosting an HIV outreach at her home for her neighbors. This house-based approach for an outreach is different than what UVP normally does, but to limit group sizes and ultimately the spread of COVID-19, we were moving house-to-house with the medical technicians and HIV counsellors in Kinu. Marriam has been to nearly every HIV outreach UVP has hosted in her village for the last 2.5 years, but this is the first time I’m getting to talk to her about her experiences.
When she was pregnant with her last child, she and her husband both received HIV tests as part of a standard prenatal care visit. Both of them were shocked to learn that he was HIV positive, but Marriam remained HIV negative. Despite their safe sex practices, Marriam worried deeply for months that her baby would be HIV positive. Going through this brought Marriam and her husband closer together. She helps him to live a health HIV positive life in the open, encouraging their neighbors to test any time an event happens in Kinu.
Relationships like Marriam’s are rare and often not widely accepted in a community. Through their outward support of HIV services, living life publicly as a discordant couple, and encouraging their friends, neighbors, and family to test regularly, Marriam and her husband’s community support their marriage. “UVP’s outreaches helped me to be brave and share my story with my community. UVP helped to make my life better – thank you!”
*Marriam’s story was shared with her permission.
By Josephine Asio, Program Coordinator