Uganda: Proposed criminal HIV transmission laws opposed by advocates

Advocates living with HIV in Uganda are fighting tough new criminal HIV transmission laws originally proposed by President Museveni last year.

Section 37 of the proposed HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Bill 2008 proposes to execute HIV-positive individuals who “knowingly infect minors with HIV”.

If passed, any HIV-infected person who performs a sexual act with another person who is below the age of 18 commits a felony called aggravated defilement and, if convicted by the High Court, will be executed.

HIV group to fight anti-AIDS law
Friday, 17th October, 2008
By Anne Mugisa
New Vision

THE people living with HIV/AIDS have condemned the proposed HIV Prevention and Control Law. They asked the Government to drop the Bill which is currently before the parliamentary committee on HIV/AIDS.

The proposed law is aimed at criminalising deliberate spread of the deadly virus. According to Flavia Kyomukama of the Global Coalition of Women Against AIDS, the law is likely to increase stigma and fuel the spread of the virus.

These sentiments came forth during the launch of the national five-year prevention and care strategic plan of the Uganda AIDS Commission (UAC) at the Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala on Wednesday.

“Why is government running away from its inadequacies of providing prevention, care, treatment and social support services? They must protect the citizens in a way that does not put to risk the lives of an already marginalised group, in this case, people living with HIV in Uganda,” Kyomukama said.

However, the donors refused to condemn the Bill, despite the passionate attack on it by the Global Coalition of Women against AIDS. Instead, the Irish Ambassador, Kevin Kelly, who represented donors at the launch, said the Bill should be combined with provisions to protect those infected.

The state minister of health, Dr. Richard Nduhuura, said the Bill will not criminalise people living with AIDS but punish those who knowingly infect others.

The UAC, Director General, Dr. Kihumuro Apuuli, identified the biggest driver of the AIDS pandemic as being men, both married and single, who have numerous sexual partners. They are infected and deliberately having unprotected sex.

People living with Aids criticise HIV Bill
Evelyn Lirri
October 20, 2008
Monitor Online

Kampala: People living with HIV/Aids have criticised a proposed Bill that criminalises the spread of the disease, saying it will only perpetuate stigma and discrimination.

According to Ms Flavia Kyomukama from the Global Coalition of Women Against Aids, criminalising the spread of HIV/Aids will lead to less disclosure of status as people will shun voluntary counselling and testing.

“We believe the proposed HIV Bill is a retrogressive and bad policy for us because it will perpetuate stigma and discrimination which we have been fighting for a long time,’’ Ms Kyomukama said.

Speaking at the sixth HIV/Aids Partnership Forum organised by the Uganda Aids Commission on Friday in Kampala, Ms Kyomukama said the government should instead refocus its energies on enacting the Domestic Relations and Sexual Offences Bills.

The government is currently drafting a Bill to execute offenders who knowingly infect minors with HIV. The Bill, which is before the parliamentary committee on HIV/Aids, specifically targets those who infect children with HIV through sexual abuse.

If passed, any HIV-infected person who performs a sexual act with another person who is below the age of 18 commits a felony called aggravated defilement and, if convicted by the High Court, will be executed.

But activists believe the Bill is misguided, urging the government to instead put more efforts in HIV awareness and prevention campaigns. “The Bill is not the way to fight HIV/Aids. The way is social support and ensuring that we prevent new infections,’’ said Ms Kyomukama.

However, Health State Minister Richard Nduhura said the Bill will only punish those who knowingly infect others with the HIV virus. There are currently close to one million Ugandans living with HIV while 130,000 new infections occur annually.

Uganda: Aids Activists Reject Bill
29 October 2008
by Anthony Bugembe
New Vision/

PEOPLE living with HIV/AIDS have rejected the proposed HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Bill 2008.

The draft Bill criminalises the intentional transmission of HIV and AIDS. According to Section 37 of the Bill, a person who intentionally transmits HIV and Aids to another person commits an offence.

“We should avoid creating scenarios where people living with HIV/AIDS are looked at as either criminals or potential criminals,” said Paddy Masembe, the executive director of Young People Living with HIV/AIDS.

Masembe said the draft Bill undermines several critical issues. These include vulnerability and needs of women, young people, prisoners, people with disabilities, migrants, sex workers and the age of informed consent for HIV-related medical treatment and interventions.

He was representing the National Forum of People Living with HIV/AIDS Networks in Uganda during a discussion in Mengo recently.

Lillian Mwoleko, the regional coordinator of the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS, expressed concern over compulsory HIV testing for pregnant women and their partners.

“No one, especially women, should be forced to disclose his or her status given the consequences of doing so. They include stigma, discrimination, violence and abandonment.”

Masembe urged that the process be halted as they hold wider consultations with stakeholders.