Women’s Independence Necessary To Address HIV/AIDS in Uganda, Opinion Piece Says
Although Uganda had many achievements to celebrate on the anniversary of its independence on Wednesday, the country must "focus on independence on the individual level," especially among women affected by HIV/AIDS in the country, Milly Nattimba of the Makerere University School of Public Health writes in a New Vision opinion piece. When looking at "the real situation on the ground in this area and what more needs to be done," women account for more than half of the almost one million HIV/AIDS cases in the country, Nattimba writes, adding that women are most affected by the disease because of their "inherent dependence on men and the subsequent vulnerability."
According to Nattimba, women have no inheritance rights in Uganda, and they are discriminated against in regard to education and economic opportunities. She adds that as a result, they become more dependent on men. According to Nattimba, "the majority of women, especially in Third World countries, do not control their sexuality." Women cannot control when they have sex or how many children they have, leaving them at an increased risk of HIV because they "cannot negotiate safe sex" and "they cannot say no to sex even when they are sure their partner is having sexual relations elsewhere," Nattimba writes. She adds that although many women receive HIV tests in Uganda, "they are afraid to share the results with their husbands" because of "extreme" repercussions. "This affects their adherence to treatment," Nattimba writes, adding that there is a "culture of silence" surrounding HIV among married couples. "A truly independent nation is a result of the good health of its people, especially the women on whose shoulders most of the production in this country rests," Nattimba concludes (Nattimba, New Vision, 10/8).