A couple met me in the field to run an HIV test. Their results revealed that they were discordant (one is positive while the other is negative) couple. (Let’s call them Mr. and Mrs. Kirk). The couple requested to be told their results individually and I obliged. I first counseled and told Mr. Kirk his test result and he was so relieved because his result showed he was HIV negative. He then asked for his wife’s result, but of course, I could not tell him because they had agreed to be told their results separately. Instead, I told him that his wife would share her result with him after she gets it.
When Mrs. Kirk heard her result, this is what she said; “I have always known I am HIV positive but I’m not on treatment because I am scared and don’t want my husband to know.” Then, she continues “I am actually waiting for my husband to get infected, so that no one will know who infected the other. I know he will be infected soon because we do not use protection”. This was a “humph” moment.
Since in HIV counseling, we are not expected to give advice; I only suggested that she disclose her result to her husband and emphasized that it was important for him to know, so she can access care and prevent more damage to her immune system. From her response, it was clear that her reputation was more important to her than whatever I was saying at the time.
-by Maryann Njoku Iheakanwa (Project Officer, CFHI-CCFN SUSTAIN project)