Lusaka – Zambian President Edgar Lungu has reportedly announced that HIV and Aids testing is now compulsory in the southern African country, as his government tries to eradicate the diseases by 2030.
According to Lusaka Times, Lungu made the announcement during the inaugural HIV Testing Counselling and Treatment Day commemoration under the theme "Test and Treat: Towards Ending Aids" held at the Olympic Youth Development Centre (OYDC) in Lusaka.
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.
The newly introduced government policy was reportedly against the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Unaids that promoted voluntary counselling and testing.
Several studies have shown that as much as compulsory testing increased treatment outcomes, it also promoted stigma towards HIV.
Unaids, the UN agency battling the disease, estimated that 2.1 million adolescents were living with HIV in 2013, 80% of them in sub-Saharan Africa.
Zambia had one of the highest HIV infection rates in the world - an estimated 13% of its 14 million people wereinfected.