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Published:January 22nd, 2009 18:54 EST
Aids-Africa And in Uganda Another Sad Chapter: HIV-Positive Couple Commits Suicide

Aids-Africa And in Uganda Another Sad Chapter: HIV-Positive Couple Commits Suicide

By Zoneziwoh Mbondgulo

HIV-positive couple commits suicide

By Robert Muhereza


They were preparing for their big day, when they would be formally united in church as husband and wife. But after taking medical tests and finding out that they were both HIV positive, the couple decided the discovery was too painful to live with and agreed to commit suicide.

Kabale District police commander Gasper Obingu Onzi, yesterday identified the couple as Prosper Owaruhanga, 22, and Lydia Nyirabukyo, 20, both residents of Gaju cell in Kabale town."We received the information about the incident on January 12 and we tried our best to save their lives by rushing them to Kabale regional Referral Hospital but they died before they could be treated," Mr Obingu-Onzi said.

The father of the deceased man, Mr Nshake Ntebirwe, who reported the incident to the Police, said in a statement he recorded that the two secretly got engaged two months ago and, after agreeing to wed later this month, decided to go for an HIV test as part of preparations for the wedding. However, after learning that they were both HIV positive, they opted to commit suicide, according to Mr Ntebirwe. "They committed suicide by taking cooper tox, a chemical used in spraying pesticides. I imagine the two sat and agreed to die," Mr Ntebirwe said.

Mr Owaruhanga was a driver, who was usually hired to transport business people to different rural markets in Kabale District. His wife, who hailed from Muko in Rubanda West County, was unemployed. Mr Obingu-Onzi said people who have acquired the HIV virus, which causes Aids, should not despair, as there are initiatives to support them. He also warned people against committing suicide, saying it is an offence.

The incident comes barely a week after a paper showed that Uganda`s HIV prevention model is outdated and no longer offers adequate protection against new infections. The paper, written by Ms Milly Nattimba, Dr Fred Sengooba, Dr Fred Wabwire-Mangeni and Prof. David Serwadda, all of Makerere University, said the bulk of new infections are now occurring among couples in long-term marriage-like relationships and discordant couples (in the 30-39 age bracket), yet preventive messages have not expanded beyond the 15 to 24 age group. However, the Kabale incident is a reminder that while new approaches to the fight against HIV are being sought, the government should not get its eye off the below 24 age group.

Uganda`s ABC model of Abstinence, Be faithful and use Condoms reduced HIV prevalence from 18 per cent to single digits but experts are worried about the stagnation of the rate as well as the rise in new infections.