Opposition Against Uganda HIV Bill

Uganda, The Uganda AIDS Commission has asked President Yoweri Museveni not to assent the recently passed HIVAIDS Control Bill 2010 in its current form.

The Commission says signing the Bill into law will negatively impact the country’s efforts in fighting the disease.

Addressing a recent news conference, the Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Vinand Natunlya said the country has registered much progress in limiting the spread of HIV without any legal instrument.

Traditional strategies include aocating for condoms and voluntary testing, however when legislators come up with a discriminatory Bill, it will scare away many Uganda’s from participating in involuntary testing.

“How can you jail someone for transmitting the virus to someone when both they have agreed to have sex? When on many occasions one partner pays for sex it’s not good to have such a Law in the country,” Nantulya said.

He said although the Bill has some useful pointers, for instance establishing the HIV Trust Fund under the Ministry of Health it also has many clauses that are discriminative in nature.

According to the bill in clause 41 it’s criminal to transmit the virus knowingly in what in the Bill terms as Intentional transmission of HIV.

According to this clause Intentional transmission of HIV is criminal and carries a Jail sentence of ten years or a fine of Ushs4.8 million. He says criminalizing intentional HIV transmission may look justifiable but it’s problematic because it violates international guidelines on Human Rights and HIVAIDS prevention.

Apart from clause 41(1) there other clauses like clause 14 which makes it mandatory for men to test alongside spouses and for victims of sexual offences to undertake attest. Clause 21 empowers medical workers to disclose the peoples HIV status without their consent in circumstances where other people’s lives are perceived to be in danger.

Dr Kenneth Omona, who presented the report on the Bill to the August House , said it seeks to establish a legal framework to prevent and control HIV spread , provide HIV services, create government obligations in managing the scourge and protecting rights of persons with HIV.

Omona who is the chairman of the parliamentary committee on health further urges that the HIV pandemic in the country is raising thus the need to come up with g punitive control measures in the country.

Source : East African Business Week

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