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HIV Positive Women in Uganda Decry Forced Sterilization

May 04, 2016 at 11:47 am | Lifestyle

Fredrick Ngugi

Fredrick Ngugi | Contributor

May 04, 2016 at 11:47 am | Lifestyle

A group of HIV positive women who have sued the Kenyan government and several local hospitals for forced sterilization. Photo (globalpressjournal.com)

Uganda’s health sector is on the spotlight following claims of forced sterilization of HIV positive women in the country.

Earlier this week, reports emerged of a 33-year-old HIV positive Ugandan woman who claims she was forcibly sterilized five years ago when she delivered her last-born at a public hospital in Uganda.

The woman identified by the name Harriet claims she discovered she was sterilized when she went back to the medical facility to seek treatment after she experienced excessive bleeding.

“The midwife told me briefly that I had undergone tubal ligation after I had given birth because I already had five kids and I was HIV positive,” Harriet told Think Progress adding that the midwife explained to her that she will never be able to give birth again.

“I felt angry because they did it without my consent,” she added.

This however is not the first case of a woman being sterilized without consent in Uganda, a country which has been struggling with high rates of HIV infection.

In March this year, another Ugandan woman identified as Ruth accused a public hospital in Arua, Northwestern Uganda, of forcibly sterilizing her in 2008 when she went there to deliver her last born.

Ruth, who is HIV positive, claimed that she only realized she had been sterilized when she visited a local gynecologist after two years of trying to conceive in vain.

This comes in the wake of an ongoing lawsuit in Kenya, in which a group of five HIV positive women in Kenya filed lawsuits against several local hospitals, accusing them of sterilizing them without consent.

According to Think Progress, the problem of HIV positive women in Uganda being forcibly sterilized is widespread not just in Uganda but in other East African countries.

A study done by African Gender and Media Initiative revealed a deep-rooted problem with more than 40 HIV positive women in Kenya claiming they were forcibly sterilized or coerced.

Local reports claim that several human rights groups including UNAIDS have requested to be enjoined in the Kenyan cases.

In June 2015, ICWEA (International Community of Women Living with HIV Eastern Africa) published a report in which at least 20 out of 72 Ugandan women who claimed were sterilized said the procedure was done secretly or they were coerced.

HIV Status in East Africa

According to UNICEF, Eastern and Southern Africa is home to half the world’s population living with HIV.

It is estimated that about 1.6 million people in Uganda are living with HIV, with 7.4 percent of the reported HIV prevalence being adults. HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men in Uganda is about 13.2 percent while that of commercial sex workers stands at 34.2 percent.

In Kenya, the situation is pretty much the same although studies have recorded a slight drop in HIV prevalence, which currently stands at 6 percent. This drop has largely been attributed to the scaling up of anti retro viral treatment.

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