Activists oppose mandatory HIV testing plan

Published: September 12, 2013

 “Have MPs really examined what impact mandatory HIV testing would have in the fight against HIV?” This was one of the questions a total of 43 civil society organizations put forward when addressing journalists at the Uganda Network on Law, Ethics and HIV/Aids offices in Ntinda this week. 

 
Dora Musinguzi, UGANET’s executive director said mandatory HIV testing of all Ugandans is not only a “gross violation of human rights”, but also an insane act that would only escalate HIV incidences than bring them down.
 
Mandatory HIV testing is one of the four clauses in the HIV/Aids and Control Bill 2010 – now in its final stages – that the 43 CSOs want rephrased.
 
But legislators on the parliamentary HIV/Aids committee have stuck to their guns, insisting that mandatory testing is for the benefit of all Ugandans and will allow government better plan for persons living with the virus.
 
In a telephone interview, Kitgum Woman MP, Beatrice Anywar, who sits on that committee, stressed: “We have many people [living] with HIV but because they are not tested we don’t know them. Government needs to know the accurate figures of people with the virus so it can plan for them.”
 
However, UGANET’s Musinguzi reasoned that mandatory testing wasn’t the best way if MPs were really interested in seeing people screened for HIV.
 
“It’s simple logic. MPs should ask themselves if people are not testing voluntarily. Will they test by force?” she said, adding that people “will instead run away. They will not go to hospitals. And we shall bring back the HIV stigma of the early ‘90s.”
 
Other unwanted clauses in the bill include: disclosure of one’s HIV status to third parties, discretion by medical personnel to disclose one’s HIV status to one’s sex partner, and the criminalization of intentional and attempted transmission of HIV/Aids.
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