38 year old Chido from Zimbabwe had been married for 20 years and was blessed with three children in the union.
Being the loving wife she was, she decided to stay in her marriage even after they had gone for an HIV test with her husband (we will call him Sam) tested positive while she tested negative.
Chido and Sam were what is defined as a serodiscordant couple – one with a mixed HIV status.
“I got married when I was 18 years old and I endured all types of abuse from my husband but I still wanted to keep my marriage.
“At first I could not believe the results because we had just had unprotected sex the previous night. He was a very adulterous man yet I kept praying to God that he would find his turning point and stop cheating on me.
“So even when we finally went for an HIV test in 2007 and he was found to be HIV positive and I was negative, I still stood by him and comforted him assuring him that all would be well,” she recalled.
After the HIV tests, they were given guidelines on how they should live as husband and wife by counsellors, according to Chido.
“After the tests, we were told that we were to have sex using condoms so that I don’t get infected. And this then created more problems because he insisted that he didn’t want to use protection because he had paid lobola and was taking good care of me,” she said.
Her only crime being proposing that they use condoms during sex, Chido, suffered physical, emotional and sexual abuse from Sam.
She was even chased from their matrimonial bedroom in 2008.
“He became crueller after we got the results as he would question how I had tested negative yet we were having unprotected sex.
“He chased me from the bedroom hurling insults at me.
“Sometimes he would even prick the condom during sex and I still don’t understand why he wanted to infect me.
“So many a times, he forced himself on me without protection and I had to get post-exposure prophylaxes about three times as I feared that he had infected me,” she adds.
Chido said she went to hell and back from the time Sam knew that he was HIV positive while she was negative.
“Maybe he was in denial, I still don’t understand because he really was determined to infect me”.
In 2012, she approached the Harare Civil Court where she sought for a protection order against sexual, emotional and physical abuse, which was granted.
“I thought this would deter him from abusing me, but it did not. He continued forcing himself on me, I could call it marital rape yet I had nowhere to run to. I tried to seek refuge at church where I told the church elders about my problems and how he was forcing himself on me but that didn’t help.
“They told us to continue praying rather than counselling him to appreciate how we were supposed to use condoms to keep both of us safe,” she added.
Chido said she did ‘everything’ to make Sam accept his status and stop abusing her. From joining discordant couples networks, going for regular counselling, ensuring that he adhered to treatment which he started taking in 2009 but all this didn’t work.