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Sex after ART: sexual partnerships established by HIV-infected persons taking anti-retroviral therapy in Eastern Uganda

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This paper explores the social contexts that influence the formation and nature of sexual partnerships among people on anti-retroviral therapy (ART). We draw on the findings of a qualitative, longitudinal study of 70 people (36 women and 34 men) who have been participating in a home-based ART programme for over three years in Eastern Uganda. Since initiating ART, 32 (18 men and 14 women) participants reported having had a new partner. Five participants (4 men and 1 woman) renewed relationships with spouses with whom they had been prior to starting ART. Overall, 37 of the 70 participants had had a sexual partner after starting ART. Companionship, material support, social and cultural norms, as well as a desire for sex and children, are drivers of new relationships. The opportunity that ART brings for people to get on with their lives brings with it a reinstatement into a social world that places a value on marriage and child-bearing. The sexual rights of those living with HIV and on ART need to be taken seriously and safer sex facilitated.
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Keywords: HIV and AIDS; Uganda; anti-retroviral therapy; sexual behaviour

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Development Studies, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK 2: Global AIDS Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-Entebbe, Uganda

Publication date: October 1, 2009

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