Turkmenistan: New law provides free HIV treatment but mandates HIV testing prior to marriage, and for people who use drugs, prisoners, blood donors and foreigners seeking work visas.

Turkmenistan has passed a law under which all people seeking a marriage license must be tested for HIV.

The law implies that anyone found to be infected with the virus that is the precursor to AIDS would be denied a marriage license.

Reports in state-controlled media on April 6 said the law was enacted “in order to create conditions for forming healthy families and avert the birth of HIV-infected children.”

Authoritarian Turkmenistan has given little public information about the extent of HIV infection in the country.

The new law also requires HIV tests for anyone suspected of using narcotics, foreigners seeking work visas, prisoners, and blood donors.

Under the legislation signed by President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, the government will guarantee free treatment to people infected with AIDS.

In 2002, Turkmenistan’s Health Ministry claimed the country had only two cases of HIV and that both patients had been infected outside the Central Asian state.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP