The World is a Pregnant Woman: Marriage and Reproductive Decision-Making among HIV-Positive Women in Northern Nigeria

Kathryn Rhine, Brown University
Khadijah I. Nuhu, University of Washington

Rates of HIV infection in many areas of Nigeria are increasing, and more people are becoming aware of their sero-status through an increase in VCT services. Support groups have been formed for HIV-positive persons, which can be venues for individuals to negotiate cultural systems of meaning surrounding sexuality, marriage, reproduction, stigma, illness, and death. However, the same social factors that render individuals vulnerable to HIV are also present in the social systems designed to support them. This paper examines the case of ten unmarried HIV-positive Hausa women from Kano, Nigeria who are members of a support group, and their experiences in negotiating sexual relationships, marriage, and reproduction. Data were gathered from six discussion sessions and 28 in-depth interviews with these women. Findings include a re-conceptualization of primary relationships and an analysis of the structural constraints influencing the agency of a woman in her strategies to obtain a husband and children.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Poster Session 3: Fertility, Family Planning, Unions, and Sexual Behavior