The Director of Project San Francisco Dr. Etienne Karita has revealed that amongst discordant couples in the country, 22 percent infect their partners with HIV annually.
“Majority of new infections are within cohabiting couples,” Karita disclosed.
He said that the HIV transmission from one partner to another is due to fear of disclosure by the infected partner even after knowing their status.
From 2003 to 2008, Project San Francisco conducted testing on 42,000 couples in Kigali City that had stayed together for 4-7 years and found that 80 percent of them were not infected. 12 percent of those infected were discordant couples with one of the partners infected with HIV.
However, Karita said that it is possible that discordant couples can have unprotected sex without one infecting the other but chances get slimmer the more the partners have sex.
“It is possible for one to get HIV and the partner does not and they can even have safe children. It’s a matter of chance; it also depends on the viral load. But still the risk of transmission is very high,” he said.
He said that studies carried out by the project found that when the couples are informed of their status the rate of infection considerably drops.
“Very few have been tested together which leads to some, especially those that are found positive hiding their status from their partners.