Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Unintended Consequences in Discouraging Polygamy

Those involved in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment in Swaziland have noticed that discouraging traditional polygamy has discouraged polyfidelity, but not having multiple concurrent partners (MCPs). The bottom line is that more people are having sex outside of marriage.

Futhi Dennis-Langa, from the National Emergency Response Council on HIV and AIDS (NERCHA), shared this information at a two-day Panos-hosted HIV/AIDS prevention workshop held at the Orion Hotel in Piggs Peak on October 15, 2011.

"What we find is that people have moved away from the structure of practicing polygamy in a marriage structure. Today the principle and practices are the same without the commitment of marriage.

"The increasing trend of transactional relationships in Swaziland is a major contributor to the spread of HIV/AIDS.

This is where I give my standards reminder that neither polygamy or any other form of nonmonogamy causes HIV. Unprotected sex with an infected person may spread HIV. So, someone who is monogamous with an infected person can contract HIV, while someone who has 100 sex partners who aren’t infected with HIV will not contract HIV.

Young men often have MCPs as a result of peer pressure, or purely for recreational purposes; in older men the reason is usually to counteract boredom, to relieve stress or to rejuvenate their sex lives.

People often have sex because is feels good, or to bond, or express affection. Rather than discouraging polygamy, how about letting people have the marriages they want?
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