BLANTYRE--Eric Aniva is a popular man from Nsanje.
His profession for many years was that of sexual cleanser and he bedded 104 widows in a tradition called ‘kupita kufa’.But the man has now called it quits and has become an HIV and AIDS ambassador, fighting the spread of the disease and the practicce common among Sena people of Nsanje.
In a report by the Sunday Times, Aniva, from Chipwembwe Village, T/A Malemia in the district, disclosed that he was tested HIV positive and he wasn't surprised.
He told the newspaper: “I started performing the duties of cleansing widows way back in 1985. I slept with widow after widow and each time I was hired to do the activity I pocketed around K4, 000 in addition to sharing with the widow the property left behind by her deceased husband.”
Widow cleansing (kupita kufa) requires a widow to sleep with her in-laws before her dead spouse is buried, in the belief that this pleases the departed soul. In some cases, men, like Aniva, are hired at a fee to perform this ritual on behalf of the in-laws.
Aniva said that early this month he decided to go for HIV testing after noting that for quite some time he was not enjoying the best of health.
“All along it never crossed my mind to go for VCT (Voluntary Counseling and Testing) but when I realised that my health was faltering, I did not hesitate to go and have my blood tested… I tested positive and I am now on ARV drugs,” Aniva said.
He is now resolute to fight against the kupita kufa tradition.Nsanje is one of the districts in Malawi with high HIV and Aids prevalence rate which stands at 16.3% against the national prevalence of 11%.Aids experts say some 50,000 Malawians are infected with the virus that causes Aids every year, while a million people live with HIV and Aids.--Sunday Times/MaraPost