A region in northern Nigeria trains HIV-positive couples for marriage, in an attempt to reduce the spread of the disease.
But international AIDS experts have expressed fears about it. Warren Naamara of UN AIDS said two people can have different strains of the virus, which could interact. He said couples should use condoms.
Around 70 pairs have been formed in recent weeks, Bauchi town authorities told the BBC. City officials say they are trying to stop the spread of HIV and are fighting the “isolation and stigma” of the disease.
Around 3% of Nigeria’s adult population – 2.4 million people – is estimated to be HIV positive.
The Bauchi region operates under Sharia, or Islamic law, and the use of condoms is not encouraged.
Dr Lirwan Mohammed, executive secretary of the AIDS Action Committee in Bauchi, said the polygamous culture in northern Nigeria has increased the spread of the disease.
“We found that polygamy has become a major source of spreading the scourge of HIV in Nigeria,” he said. “The weddings were organized under strict confidentiality,” he continued. “Suiters who have tested positive and are ready to marry each other can reduce the spread of the virus and alleviate the psychological trauma of isolation. ”
Couples are introduced to each other in counseling sessions and are free to say yes or no to each potential partner,” says BBC’s Shehu Saulawa.
A groom, speaking to the BBC’s Hausa department anonymously, expressed confidence in the plan to curb the spread of AIDS in Nigeria.
“If we are to fear God, we should stop the spread of the HIV virus through random marriages that infect innocent people,” he said. “Marriage with a person with the same HIV status will reduce the spread of this scourge. »
But the head of the United Nations agency responsible for fighting the disease in the country said the system was dangerous. “There could be a great danger in terms of the spread of the disease. “said Mr. Naamara.
He also said it was “undesirable” for these couples to have children.
“The chances of these children becoming double orphans are great, they will lose both parents. We think they should use condoms.
Last month the Bauchi region reportedly jailed sex workers who tested positive for HIV .