Nairobi (Kenya) “What do you think my pastor can say unto me? We have been having this sexual relationship together for four years now and are married. We always have sex together while my husband is out at work, I don’t work personally so he comes into the house saying he’s just passing by to know the whereabouts of his flock”. Narrates Susan Katumbi*
Katumbi (37) a mother of three has been married for ten years now though her marriage has been having lots of domestic violence according to her.
Two years back, she found out that she was HIV positive and though she couldn’t foretell the main cause of her seropositive condition, she thinks it’s due to her sexual misconduct with the pastor.
“It all started three days after I reported our domestic quarrels to the pastor, who had to intervene with his wife,” Katumbi said, We had four hours of bible reading and counseling and since then my husband has never beaten me up again except quarrelling, later very close relationship developed between me and pastor”.
HIV statistics in Kenya
According to the Kenya demographic survey there is an estimate of 1.4 million Kenyans living with HIV in the country. Statistics further shows that heterosexual couples in steady relationships account for 44.1% of the daily new HIV infections as compared to 20.2% which is among people living in casual relationships.
Katumbis the relationship fall in the above category, and although she has told the pastor about her HIV status, he requested her to shun from disclosing to the husband of which she has complied to, up to date.
“Pastor didn’t seemed perplexed by the news, this made me sense that he might be the main cause of my HIV status. Although he encouraged me by reading the bible verse that says Jesus Christ died for sinners, he also assured me that we will pray and a miracle will one day happen, something I believed though is yet to see it to occur” says Katumbi.
Katumbi’s husband Felix Kamau* an accountant by profession heard rumors about his wife’s relationship with the pastor, and although he confronted his wife to unearth the truth, she managed to cool his temper down by assuring him that though the pastor comes into the house while he’s away at work, but they never had any intimate relationship.
Role of religious leader in courtships
Katumbi lives by taking selptrin tablets since her HIV positive status was detected at an early age. She has been hiding the drugs inside her clothes and takes them while her husband goes to work or when he’s not around.
Religious leader have got a bigger role in modeling families to live a faithful life to each other and to God. But the example of Katumbi leaves the community amazed on what religious counselor turn to.
“Many couples married or in relationships are attached to different religions, thus our religious leaders have a very big role to play in shaping these unions during counseling sections in order to reduce HIV infections in courtship.” Says Harriet Kongin, the head and stakeholders coordinator in the office of the National AIDS Control Council (NACC).
Even though these two may be close friends, the challenge remains where to draw the line between intimacy and counseling. They have been practicing unsafe sex since years thus risking their lives and others.
Pastor had lost it at the very beginning when he allowed himself to enter into another married woman’s life when he too was married.
Re-infection of HIV to HIV positive persons
According to Professor Mohammed Karama concentration needs to be put to tackle the issue of having HIV positive persons in family unions re-infecting each other.
“Some people said if my wife and I are HIV positive, why use a condom, there is nothing we can do. So let us continue. But what actually happens is that, they get super re-infection of each other. You infect each other again. And even the HIV subtype that one has multiplies too many subtypes. Thus progression of the HIV virus to AIDS becomes much faster.” Says Prof. karama
Katumbi has been practicing unsafe sex with both her new lover, the pastor and her husband. She says it’s difficult to introduce the topic of using condoms in their marriage because it will create mistrust from the husband, while for to her new lover, they are used to enjoying unprotected sex.
But Professor articulate that the risk with such kind of people is that, they spread the virus to many people and leave them at risk. He says, the slogan used by many people in Swahili words, that “Jimwi usilolijua halikudhuru, ama zimwi ulijualo halikuli likakwisha,” meaning; the devil you do not know can’t harm you or better the devil you know than the one you don’t know may act as a sweeping tool to the community.
Intensive HIV education
All these mean that if u do not know that you are HIV positive, or either you know and you do not discuss about it, you keep on infecting others and because people don’t know your status that you are HIV positive, then one ends up putting whole society in great danger.
Kongin says that lack of proper education in all target groups has been paving way to uncaring behaviors from the population. Many people have been spreading HIV thinking they no longer have a role to play in nurturing a healthy society.
NO longer are marriages thought to be on a safer side in respect to HIV, statistics proved that 60% of new HIV infections in Kenya are happening in marriages.
This takes us back to the issue of Katumbi, that regardless of whom one is, proper HIV and AIDS awareness needs to be created without leaving behind any target group in humanity race.