Migrant worker husbands infecting wives with HIV

Published On: February 13, 2018 08:17 AM NPT By: Tekendra Basyal

KOHALPUR, Feb 13: Most women infected with HIV in Banke lament that they were infected with the disease through their migrant worker husbands. These women asserted that during their short trips to home, the husbands 'gifted' the disease to them. 

“I did not have any disease. Now, doctors say that I am infected with HIV. I am sure that I got infected of it from my husband,” said 38-year-old Keshari Nepali (name changed). “I went for a health check-up after my health condition begun to deteriorate. Following some tests, the doctor told me that I was infected with HIV. I was shocked,” she said. Later on, she realized that her husband was already infected with the disease and had not shared it with her. 

“He knew that he was infected with the disease but he did not share it with me nor took precautions to save me from the disease. That's a very cruel thing to do,” she said. Nepali shared was speaking at a program held at Kohalpur on Monday on the occasion of world condom day. 

Nepali said that men are more reluctant when it comes to discussing sexual matters, let alone sexual diseases with their wives.

While speaking at a program in Kohalpur organized to mark World Condom Day on Monday, she said that men still hesitate to use condom. Both due to the lack of awareness and guts to speak the truth, she said many men are transmitting HIV to their partners.
Nepali was among over dozens of women who put the blame on husband for their sorry health state. They are living with HIV positive just because their husbands did not think it important to talk to them about the disease they had, women speaking at the program shared. 

HIV infected women from several areas of Banke participated in the program organized by Aids Healthcare Foundation, Nepal. Speakers urged the government and non-government organizations working in the sector to spread awareness among HIV infected people for being more open about the disease with their partners. Such sharing, they said, would save wives from being victim to the disease. 

As per the data of District Public Health Office, among 962 HIV infected in the district, 414 are women and most of them are married. 

Nepali's husband, who later switched to driving profession, was earlier with the Nepal Police. When he was the police, he might not have received the disease, Nepali says.

“Till then, everything was fine. When he became a driver, and kept moving here and there and sometimes even to India, things changed. During this period, he might have been infected with HIV. But he did not share that with me and ultimately I also became a victim of the victim,” she stated. 

Nepali said that men are more reluctant when it comes to discussing sexual matters, let alone sexual diseases, with their wives. They do not want their wives to even utter anything about. She said, raising awareness among men for being more open with their wives is even more important. 

Pushpa Thapa, 28, of Nepalgunj metropolis seconded Nepali's view. Thapa said that her husband also hid the fact that he was infected with the disease from her. “So, he transmitted this HIV to me,” she said. 

The women further lamented that the husbands who transmit HIV Aids to wives never expressed regrets for their wrongdoing, even later. Instead, they come hard on them. 

“When you are the one who has done the wrong, you should be sorry about it. When your wife's health deteriorates and she needs help, you should help her. This is not just one woman's but almost everyone's story here,” Thapa said. 

Thapa came to know that she was infected with HIV when she was pregnant. During health check-up, the doctor revealed it to her. Her husband, who used to work in India, was also a drug addict. 

According to the DPHO data, 113 people have died in Banke due to the infection. Dr Sanket Risal, focal person for HIV cases in Bheri Zonal Hospital, said that women are more vulnerable to being infected with the disease from their husband. 

“Safe sex is still not common in our society. Both men and women are still unaware of it. In most of the cases, husbands transmit the disease to their wives. There are ample of such cases here,” he said. 

He claimed that 90 percent of women with HIV infection have received it from their husbands. HIV infection among unmarried women is rare, but among married ones, it's very rampant, he said.
“Many men are migrant workers here. They come home occasionally and while coming home, they also bring the disease home,” says Risal. “Apart from the migrant workers, professionals working as police, army, drivers are also prone to getting infected with the disease. Their wives have also been commonly found to have been infected with the disease,” he added. 

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