Activists fight parts of Uganda's HIV/AIDS bill, including mandatory testing & disclosure plus a 'wilful transmission' statute, tabled for Jan 2013

According to Dr. Jeremiah Twa- Twa, chairperson HIV/AIDS sectoral committee, the HIV/AIDS prevention and control bill,  aimed at protecting people and creating a conducive legal environment for the implementation of HIV/AIDS programmes in Uganda, will be finalised before the end of the session, most likely in January next year.

However, the bill has thrown a cat among dogs, especially the civil society and AIDS activists who have rejected some of the proposed sections, saying they undermine many critical issues. Led by Uganda Network on Law, Ethics and HIV/AIDS (UGANET) and the National Forum of People Living with HIV/AIDS Network in Uganda (NAFOPHANU), the activists demand that some clauses be revised. They, however, say it is a good law with good intentions, but also warn that it may have devastating effects.

The joint civil society coalition, made up of more than 40 organisations, including human rights groups, has urged Parliament to review the clauses on mandatory testing of HIV, mandatory disclosure of a person’s HIV status and the criminalisation of intentional spread of the disease. The bill, calls for mandatory HIV testing of pregnant women and their partners during antenatal visits. Most men do not accompany their wives for antenatal visits and those who do so rarely accept to be tested for HIV. If the bill passes into law, all men who are responsible for a pregnancy may be compelled to test for HIV.