Available studies show that Sub-Saharan Africa n countries are more heavily affected by HIV and AIDS than many other regions of the world and people include married couples living separately (UNAIDS, 2010, 2011). In Sub-Saharan Africa, the HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to exert a significant toll on individuals and society, and has had profound effects on the region’s economic as well as social development prospects. Though the Sub-Saharan African region is home to just 10 percent of the total world’s population, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that more than two-thirds (68%) of the total 33.2 million people living with HIV in the world are in Sub-Saharan region (UNAIDS and WHO, 2007).
HIV prevalence is slightly higher among young women than in young men. According to (TACAIDS, 2005) the HIV prevalence for young women aged between 15 and 24 is four percent compared to three percent for young men in the same age bracket. Statistics on HIV/AIDS situation in Tanzania show that the prevalence is higher in urban areas than in rural areas. For example, it was reported that the HIV prevalence rate among young men in urban areas is as three times higher as that for young men in rural areas (TACAIDS, et. al., 2005) As the infection rate rises in Dar es Salaam, reports from (TACAIDS, 2005) showed that Dar es Salaam had 11 percent of adults infected with HIV/AIDS.
Technically, separation is a term used to refer to a situation in which married couples fall apart, whether temporarily or permanently. Various authors have defined the meaning of separation, which is contextual. However, separation of couples used in this study should not be confused with the provided meaning. This is because when married couples separate, it means the relationship is broken and they are not staying together. There is a situation where couples are not living together but their relationship is still good and they are relating to each other in many ways. They include married couples who decide to live apart for some economic reasons.
The act of living apart sometimes known as commuter marriage is always practiced by dual-career couples. These are the couples who are both working, that is, have their own career to pursue. In order not to give up their career paths, each partner is forced to live in the respective duty stations. All this is done in order to complement family income.
Statement of the Problem
Abundant literature exist showing that married women stand the greatest risk for contracting HIV/AIDS from their husbands’ sexual habits including engagement in unprotected extra marital sexual activities (James Currey, 2009). Likewise, there are number of studies showing that due to growing economic hardships, some men especially from rural areas migrate to urban areas in search for jobs and other income generating activities.
Some married men from rural area have the tendency of staying for long periods in the cities ranging from three months to several years. Anecdotal evidence suggests that while in the cities, such married husbands establish sexual relationships with some women partners either on temporary or permanent basis. Such married men tend to keep the said sexual affairs as a top secret and when they visit their families in rural areas, they continue relating with their wives as if nothing has happened. Available studies have confirmed that labor migration that involves separation of spouses is connected with masculine sexual privileges, expectations of female sexual passivity and domestic violence.
These three issues have exacerbated married women’s vulnerability to HIV/AIDS infections. Thus, married women, whose partners/husbands are living outside their homes appear to be much more exposed to the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. However, to date, there are very few empirical studies that have been conducted to ascertain the effects of spouses’ absence from the family husbands or extra marital affairs on their vulnerability to HIV/AIDS.
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