Marriage, Intimacy and Risk of HIV Infection in South West Uganda

Dorice Agol, Dominic Bukenya, Janet Seeley, Elizabeth Kabunga, Anne Katahoire


Long-term, monogamous, relationships are often portrayed as protective in HIV prevention campaigns.  Focusing on marriage in a community in south west Uganda, we examine why and how people enter long term relationships, what their expectations are and what factors sustain those relationships.  Qualitative data were collected using in-depth interviews with 50 men and women randomly selected from a General Population Cohort.  The results showed that managing expectations to sustain marriage is challenging; however the socio-economic and cultural benefits of marriage: having children, property acquisition as well as securing societal status tend to overshadow the costs associated with risks from infidelity such as sexually transmitted infections (including HIV).  Recognising the compromises that couples may make to sustain their marriage is an important step towards acknowledging that `being faithful’ may be about staying together and showing commitment, not sexual exclusivity. (Afr J Reprod Health 2014; 18[4]: 86-94).


Keywords: marriage; long-term relationship; HIV epidemic; Uganda



Les relations monogames à long terme, sont souvent dépeintes comme une protection dans les campagnes de prévention du VIH. En mettant l'accent sur le mariage dans une communauté dans le sud ouest de l'Ouganda, nous examinons pourquoi et comment les gens entrent dans des relations à long terme, quelles sont leurs attentes et quels facteurs soutiennent ces relations. Les données qualitatives ont été recueillies au moyen d'entrevues en profondeur avec 50 hommes et femmes choisis au hasard à partir d'une population générale cohorte. Les résultats ont montré que la gestion des attentes pour soutenir le mariage est difficile, mais les avantages socio-économiques et culturels du mariage: avoir des enfants, acquis de la propriété ainsi que l’obtention d’un bon étatcivil dans la société,  ont tendance à éclipser les coûts associés aux risques de l'infidélité telles que les infections sexuellement transmissibles (y compris le VIH). La reconnaissance des compromis que les couples peuvent faire pour soutenir leur mariage,  est une étape importante vers la reconnaissance du fait que « être fidèle» peut signifier rester ensemble et de faire preuve de l'engagement, pas l'exclusivité sexuelle. (Afr J Reprod Health 2014; 18[4]: 86-94).


Mots clés: mariage; relation à long terme; Épidémie de VIH; Ouganda

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