KENYA: Amina Hassan*, "I suspect he knows his status and is taking ARVs secretly"
Photo: Rachel Kibui/IRIN
"I know he hurts me, but I have already forgiven him."
NAKURU, 3 March 2011 (PlusNews) - For 10 years Amina Hassan*, 37, trusted her husband and had a happy married life in Nakuru, in Rift Valley Province, western Kenya. Even if her religion allowed him to marry other wives, he had always assured her that she was enough, and he would have no reason to marry anyone else. But she told IRIN/PlusNews that life changed when her husband went to work in the port city of Mombasa and he returned a different man.
"I got married in 1994 at the age of 20 to a man who was five years older than me. Every time we talked, he assured me of his love for me and his commitment to making me happy all the time. He said he was faithful to me even though as a truck driver he travelled for long distances and many days.
"In return, I remained faithful to him, I would miss him when he travelled but kept off the temptations of having another partner. He had rented a house for us in Bondeni, Nakuru, and I made sure no man, even a relative, visited in his absence, lest speculations start spreading around.
"In January 2004 he told me he would be working around the costal town of Mombasa for three weeks but... he did not return as promised and told me on the phone that he would take a little longer, as he had been assigned more work.
"When he came back in July the same year, it was a joyous moment for me and our children. But unlike before, the joy did not last over the night.
"He had never before asked to have anal sex with me, but on that particular night he demanded that it had to be done 'the modern way'. When I resisted, he threatened to leave me, saying I and the children would soon die from starvation as he would no longer provide for us.
"He even asked me to return 6,000 Kenyan shillings (US$75) that he had given me to shop for the house and children the following day. On that night I gave in, only to keep the money and avoid confrontation.
"I hoped that he would calm down and I would explain to him that it was not my preferred way of having sex. It was so painful, both in my heart and body, but it was a sacrifice I would make for my children.
"It later became the order of the day, though sometimes we would have sex the normal way, he preferred anal sex, claiming he derived more pleasure in it. I suffered bruises but had to bear the pain. I would cry during and after sex, but I still had to stick to this man, who provided and still provides for me and my children.
"Four months later my situation deteriorated. The wounds were more painful than ever and even started producing pus - that's when I went to a government hospital.
"Though I felt hurt by the inquisitive nurses, I had to bear also with their sarcasm as they mocked me due to the nature of my injuries.
"Worse still, it was then that I tested HIV positive. I felt so betrayed, the first thing that came to my mind was that I should commit suicide.
"I still had sex with him, yet I could not disclose my findings as yet. I wondered whom I would share with my problems, but still I wanted to keep them to myself - it was the safest way.
"Later I met an old friend who had been open about his HIV status, and was running an organization for the infected. It was Paul Ndegwa, the founder of Ambassadors of Change organization who advised me to start ARV [antiretroviral] treatment.
"Though Ndegwa advised me to stop having anal sex and enlightened me on the dangers associated with it, I still cannot avoid it - it has become my way of life. My husband still insists on it, and threatened to abandon his own family.
"I do not have a job, I want to keep my promise to live with this man. I see no need of divorcing him when I am already infected. If only for my children, I will remain in this man's house, being obedient and submissive. I know he hurts me, but I have already forgiven him.
"I keep going to hospital for the ARVs, which I take secretly and for treatment of anal injuries. For me sex is a punishment, no longer pleasure I would want to enjoy.
"I joined Ambassadors of Change as a member without his knowledge. I disclosed my status to him, but he just kept silent, just as if I had said nothing.
"I tried advising him to go for a HIV test, but he insisted he was sure that he was negative, and need not be tested. But I suspect he knows his status and is taking ARVs secretly because he still looks healthy.”
* Not her real name.
Theme(s): Care/Treatment - PlusNews, HIV/AIDS (PlusNews),
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]