Explaining patterns in new HIV/AIDS infections among married females: the case of Mbarara Municipality, Mbarara District
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The study aimed at explaining patterns in new HIV infections among married women. Mbarara municipality in Mbarara district was used as the case study. The study was carried out in three divisions of Kakoba, Kamukuzi and Nyamitanga. It was guided by three objectives that focused on the role of sexual behavioural practices in new HIV infections among married women; attitudes of married women towards HIV transmission, prevention and care; and how gender differences influence the patterns in new HIV infections among married females. The study consisted a total of 120 respondents and twelve key informants (six local councils and six health providers) and five Focus group discussions. The data was collected using a questionnaire, interview guide and a focus group discussion guide. A review of relevant written documents was also done to supplement the primary data. The quantitative data collected was presented in frequency counts and score tables with varying percentages calculated whereas qualitative data was analysed thematically. Interpretations and conclusions were made according to the number of occurrences on each item. Respondents’ real words were also quoted. The study findings revealed that the high rates of new HIV infection among married women are as a result of risky sexual behavioural practices. These included; lack of condom use among married couples, age at first marriage, age at first sexual intercourse, multiple and concurrent partners, alcohol use, and lack of trust among married couples. it was also revealed that attitudes of women towards HIV transmission, prevention and care has a lot to do with high rates in new HIV infections among the married women and this was mainly seen through poor communication among couples and lack of HIV testing and disclosure. In addition, the influence of gender has also escalated high rates of new HIV infections are concerned with specific reference to poverty, economic dependency, discrimination, influence of religion, poor negotiation skills and domestic violence. In light of the study findings, the researcher advances some recommendations. The recommendations attach importance to more sensitization and counselling of married women in cases of domestic conflicts by the Village health educators to cut down on the levels of infidelity among the married. Also the researcher recommends that there is need to promote massive HIV testing among the individuals intending to marry and to increase disclosure levels. Lastly it’s also recommended that designing of any measures to prevent HIV transmission to married women should clearly consider gender issues especially access to and control of resources, power relations, decision making, gender roles and sexual and gender based violence.