23 November 2017

Uganda: What to Do When Your Partner Refuses to Have an HIV Test

Testing for HIV is essential in any relationship. It enables couples to know their respective status. Many couples, however, find it difficult to take the test for a number of reasons.

"I fear taking the test. My girlfriend Mercy always insists that we go together and do it but I always make up excuses," Jonathan Mubiru says.

Mubiru, 30, and Mercy have been in the relationship for the past two years. He says they have protected sex. "I will probably go and do it when I am ready to start a family," he says.

But Mubiru is not the only person in a relationship afraid to undergo an HIV test. A number of people Daily Monitor spoke to had reasons as to why they are afraid to test.

Afraid of the results

"I do not want to have a heart attack and a mental breakdown in case the results come back positive," Kavuma says.

Kavuma, 25, says he once attempted to take an HIV test but changed his mind soon after reaching the medical facility.

"Fear engulfed me when I entered the facility. I started shaking. I could not do it and ended up walking out of the clinic," he says.

Kavuma is currently in a relationship with a third year university student. On whether he knows her HIV status, Kavuma says he does not.

"We have not had sex yet. I have only been seeing her for five months now. Once the relationship gets serious, I will probably pick up the courage to go and test with her," he says.

In early November, Judith Alyek, the chairperson Parliamentary Committee on HIV/Aids, proposed a move to have all men subjected to compulsory HIV testing since the majority do not know their status. She made the remarks ahead of the annual World Aids Day celebrations on December 1.

Better to know

When Janet Apio was starting a new relationship 10 years ago, she encouraged her partner to undergo an HIV test, with her.

"I remember telling him that knowing was better than being ignorant. Also, the results would enable us make better health choices during the course of the relationship," she says, adding, "He was very afraid and reasoned that in case one of us was positive; there was a possibility that the relationship would end. I responded that I would not leave him."

Apio was, however, surprised one day when her partner produced a medical document confirming his negative status.

"The results showed that he was negative, however, I had my doubts. What if they were forged? Nowadays, people have a tendency of forging test results so as to infect others," she says.

Apio says she insisted on having the test done as a couple. And fortunately, both their results came back negative.

"Knowing our status has given us both a peace of mind. We are very comfortable around each other and are taking all the necessary precautions to ensure that we both stay healthy."

Discordant

Meanwhile, Ali Abdullah Manshoor says HIV should not terrify people. "It can be managed. I urge people to test," he says. The businessman is married to Doreen Nassala. They are a discordant couple. Manshoor is negative while Nassala is positive.

"I learnt of her status when we were dating a few years ago, but, I never left her. If you genuinely love someone, nothing can stop you from being with them," he says, adding, "I only have to ensure that she continuously adheres to her medication."

Manshoor and Nassala have two children together, who are both negative.

When they refuse

Mary Asiimwe Butamanya, a counsellor and former president of Uganda Counselling Association gives the following reasons:-

"Before you tell someone else to undergo an HIV/test, you must be certain of yours. Once you know your results, irrespective of whether you are positive or negative, encourage your partner to go and test as well. If someone refuses and you are both sexually active, insist on always using condoms. Resist from falling into the trap of having unprotected sex when you do not know your partner's status. Stand your ground by insisting that you both go and do the test. There are times people refuse to do a joint HIV/ test and will instead bring their results. They will tell you they tested at some clinic and the results came out negative. They will even have medical proof. Some of these people lie. Some forge these negative results and yet in fact they are positive. Always insist on going for an HIV test together. In case you are not married but in a relationship with a person who stubbornly refuses to test, you have an option of ending it. However, if you are married, it is a whole different case where the situation has to be handled delicately."

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