The conservative northern Nigerian state of Bauchi is running a lonely hearts service for HIV positives who want to get married. Authorities claim that this will reduce the spread of HIV. Predictably enough, some people are whining about this. A UNAIDS official is quoted as saying that it is dangerous, because of the likelihood of them infecting one aother with different strains of the virus.
That’s the same kind of official that tells people always to use condoms in oral sex. What are the real risks of a single super-infection? They are poorly quantified but clearly small, compared to the reward of not having to use condoms every time you have sex with your life partner. If a couple are both positive they may want to think about avoiding pregnancy, but there are other ways of doing that besides using condoms. Leave them in peace to have sex any way they want, is what I say.
One of the ironies of Bauchi’s new “sex between positives” drive is that it is a prevention initiative first devised by gay men in rich countries. We’ve even given it a name — sero-sorting — and it works well for positives though not quite so well for men who both say (and perhaps even believe) that they’re HIV negative. Ironic because Bauchi’s officials don’t exactly embrace learning from gay men. A couple of months ago they
slung a group of men in jail for being “gay”. They were identified because they were in women’s clothing.