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Aids And Infidelity: A Woman's Cry

By JEFFARAH GIBSON Tribune Features Writer MARY'S outcry vibrated throughout the health clinic. Disbelief, hurt, pain, anger, registered all over her face. Everyone in the waiting room of the public clinic knew Mary just received very bad news. She screamed at the nurses who tried effortlessly to calm her down. "Nurse I only been sleeping with my husband. How he could gimme AIDS?" Mary is just one women, but her story represents many others. Like Mary, many women assume monogamous commitments like marriage guarantee protection against sexually transmitted diseases. Some women find out, this is not always reality. International and Caribbean wide statistics register married women as a concerning group amongst the population of HIV/AIDS infected women. Added with the culture of 'sweet hearting' in the Bahamas, some women have reason for concern. So should married women turn to protective measures like using condoms just as some cautious single women do? "Although you are married you cannot be naive. You cannot be so in love that you are blind. If you are in a situation and you suspect your husband is having an affair, you have the right to insist he uses a condom when you are having sex with him," Shelia, a married woman of four years, told Tribune Woman. "This is a really messed up situation because I have heard of many cases where women contracted diseases from their husbands. I mean you are supposed to be safe within your marriage but it seems that marriage cannot keep women safe either. Your husband is your husband and a wife is supposed to be able to enjoy sex with her husband without having to use any barriers, unless they are not trying to have kids. But with those kind of things happening it makes you wonder whether you are safe within marriage," Tanya said. Bahamian author, and CEO of Iron Network, Sherika Brown said women must not look to others to ensure the safety of their own lives. "We have to be stewards of our own lives. You have to protect yourself. You cannot entrust the safety of your life into the hands of someone else. No one is going to be responsible for your life like you would," she explained. While there are cases where married women have contracted diseases from their husbands, Dr Sandra Dean Patterson said if no reason within the relationship exists for a wife to be concerned, then she should not be. "I think if you have a healthy relationship each partner should have respect for one another. If a partner is stepping outside of the marriage, if a woman has her suspicions then she should talk to her husband about her feelings, and insist that they use condoms when they are having sex. But if she has no suspicion whatsoever, then she has no reason to be concerned." Ms Brown said knowing the status of your partner is something that should be addressed before marriage. Stanya Davis, brainchild of Eve's Journey, a program that seeks to help woman rediscover their true beauty, said a woman has the power to make any demands when it comes to her own body. "Who has the highest statistics when it comes to HIV/AIDS? We have a responsibility to [protect] ourselves, over and beyond how someone else feels. Even if a woman does not have any suspicions that her husband is unfaithful if she wants him to use a condom she can suggest that. It is her body and she has the right. I do not see anything wrong with it. If her husband is okay with it then go ahead, but if he is not then they have to come together to find another alternative," said Ms Davis.

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