Can "love wheel" stop infidelity in marriage?

Spin the wheel and get a tip to spoil your better half; spend more time together or go out for a romantic evening: A new Ugandan HIV prevention programme hopes a "love wheel" will encourage couples to seek excitement within their own marriages rather than in the arms outsiders.



Reenah Kakuru has already noticed the difference the "love wheel" is making in her marriage. "Today he gave me money to spoil myself. Sometime back his 'love wheel' task was to call some of my friends over [to visit] and I could see him struggling because he was supposed to pick the best three among many and he did not know who they were," she told IRIN/PlusNews.



"The greatest thing about it is that at the end of the day there is something to look forward to," she added.



"It has a playful element in it, improves intimacy, builds relationship with family, friends and boosts creativity," said Reenah's husband Peter. "We have very demanding jobs that sometimes keep you very busy and you forget - but this is a relationship reminder that keeps you together as a couple."



The wheel, categorized into eight thematic areas such as family, fitness, fun, friends and finances, has a number of tips relating to each theme. Currently stocked in supermarkets in the capital, Kampala, its promoters say they have sold more than 1,500 units since its launch in November 2010.



"We did not have a fidelity option for people who wanted to remain faithful but did not know how to do it," said Julius Lukwago, marketing and communications director for social marketing NGO Programme for Accessible Health, Communication and Education (PACE). "A strong marriage like everything else in life - education, career - needs to be worked on."









''For some African men, it's irrelevant - spoiling his wife and other modern ideas are not really practical for such people''

Research has shown that people with multiple sexual partners contribute up to 46 percent of all new HIV infections annually, with 43 percent of new infections occurring among married Ugandans. PACE research has also found that many couples in the country have a fatalistic attitude towards infidelity, believing it to be inevitable. 



Gimmick?



However, some Kampala residents have questioned the relevance of the wheel to their own lives. "For some African men, it is irrelevant - spoiling his wife and other modern ideas are not really practical for such people," said Dan Kiggala*.



Kiggala, who is married and has heard the ads on radio but has no interest in buying the wheel, says HIV prevention campaigns need to be more realistic.



"Given the choice of this campaign and campaigns promoting condom use, I think we would rather do away with the gimmicks and stick to promoting safe sex," he added.



The effectiveness of Uganda's fidelity campaigns was recently called into question in a study by the communications think-tank, PANOS; the study faulted the campaigns for failing to address the social, cultural and economic issues that underlie why people engage in multiple concurrent partnerships.



PACE's Lukwago said the organization already had a strong condom programme, and the "love wheel" was intended for those couples who felt they had lost that spark and wanted to keep their marriages strong.





















Read more
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Some supermarket staff in Kampala said at about US$5 a pop, the wheel was too expensive for many shoppers. Observers also say the campaign's impact is likely to be limited by the fact that the wheel is in English and has so far only been sold in urban areas.



PACE officials say they plan to translate the "love wheel" into eight local languages and to transform its tips into activities that are relevant in a rural setting, where the majority of Ugandans live.



The "love wheel" is the second phase of Go Red for Fidelity,  a campaign started in 2009 by the government, the Organization of African First Ladies against AIDS, and PACE which emphasizes sexual monogamy as a way to prevent HIV/AIDS.



*Not his real name



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