Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ugandan Lawmakers okay controversial HIV/AIDS Bill

In our May 3, 2011 article, we analyzed the impact of the proposed HIV /AIADS Prevention and Control Bill that was before Uganda’s eighth Parliament for debate and passing. We added our voice to a number of international and local NGOs, activists, donors and Uganda’s partners calling for the revision of the entire bill and removal of clauses that criminalize HIV/AIDS spread.

On July 12, 2011 Ugandan law makers resisted pressure and backed the bill despite its consequences of rights of people living with HIV /AIDS and HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness campaigns that have seen the country make tremendous steps towards the.

The 9th Parliament new committee chairperson, Ms Rosemary Najjemba Muyinda was recently reported saying that the bill was in its advanced stages of being passed.

There are several controversial clauses of the bill like a 10 year penalty in jail to individuals that knowingly infect others, criminal prosecution of women who transmit HIV to their infants after birth through breast milk among others.

Lets think about this: Two people: A ( male) and B (female) both have never had HIV test but have unprotected sex. A becomes suspicious and worried and decides to rush to the nearest HIV testing center after 120 days and tests for HIV. Results show that he is HIV positive. He attacks B and drags her to court for infecting him with the deadly HIV/AIDS virus intentionally. Remember B had never had an HIV test before and didn’t know her status before she had unprotected sex with A. How will court determine who infected the other? Are Uganda’s law makers making ignorance of one’s HIV status a crime or making HIV test mandatory?

ICOD Action Network strongly opposes the entire bill because of its consequences on human rights, the bill undermines progress so far made in fighting HIV/AIDS, it legislates for mandatory testing for HIV and forced disclosure of HIV status among other clauses that we think will affect government and civil society efforts to reduce HIV prevalence and new infections rates.

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