Zambia makes a U-turn on compulsory HIV & Aids testing

2017-08-23 19:09
HIV . (iStock)

HIV . (iStock)

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Lusaka – The Zambian government has reportedly backed down on its mandatory HIV and Aids testing policy following a country wide uproar. 

President Edgar Lungu announced last week that the southern African nation was going to conduct compulsory HIV & Aids testing as part of his government plans to eradicate the diseases by 2030.

Lungu said that compulsory HIV and Aids testing was a government policy that was non-negotiable.

"I must admit that there were some colleagues who felt that this policy would infringe on human rights but there [is] no one [who] has the right to take away somebody’s life. Just the same way we don’t consult you for consent when we are testing for Malaria, we will go ahead and test you for HIV and we will counsel you and if you are positive, we will commence you on treatment," Lungu was quoted as saying at the time.

But, according to Lusaka Times, the authorities had since withdrawn the decision following an uproar by several rights groups. 

The country's health minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya said that patients will still have the option to opt out if they did not want to be tested for HIV in line with global standards and medical ethics.

"Before any blood is drawn from your body, consent will be obtained and the tests or any kind of diagnosis explained to the patient. It is not like there will be police officers who will be arresting those people that will opt out but it is important to encourage everyone to know their HIV status,” Dr Chilufya was quoted as saying. 

The government policy was reportedly against the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Unaids that promoted voluntary counselling and testing.

Read more on:    unaids  |  world health organisation  |  edgar lungu  |  zambia  |  southern africa

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