U.N. Study Says Polygamy Main AIDS Driver in Swaziland
September 5, 2008
A recently released UN study found that traditional practices viewed as important for keeping Swazi society together are driving the country's HIV/AIDS epidemic. Polygamy, widow inheritance, multiple female partners, and extramarital relationships are increasing Swazis' vulnerability to HIV, according to the UN Development Program's Swaziland Human Development Report for 2008. "If one sexual partner in such sexual networks is HIV-positive and sex is unprotected, the practice becomes an important driver of the pandemic," the report said. Several studies have identified polygamy in particular as a transmission vector, but "a defensive attitude has been maintained by the cultural gate-keepers" regarding the practice, the study said. The country's absolute monarch, King Mwatsi III, has 13 wives, and polygamy is common in the country. Close to 40 percent of Swazi adults are HIV-infected.
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.