Monday, August 24, 2009

Compulsory HIV Testing is a Bad Idea

The Ugandan parliament is discussing the possibility of making HIV testing and counselling compulsory because infection rates are continuing to rise.

In addition to being extremely difficult achieve, compulsory testing is also inadvisable. The very groups of people who are most likely to have high transmission rates will also be most likely to avoid being tested. Individuals who think they are likely to be infected may try to avoid testing because they fear the consequences.

The same groups of people that were being stigmatised in Uganda when the HIV epidemic started are still stigmatised now, commercial sex workers, intravenous drug users, etc; some are now under even greater pressure to hide from the law, for example, men who have sex with men (MSM).

Yet another reason for not testing is the possibility of being prosecuted for knowingly transmitting HIV. Women are especially vulnerable to this phenomenon because they are usually tested for HIV when they are pregnant. On the other hand, men usually don't get tested until they are showing symptoms that may suggest they are HIV positive.

It's good to hear that the Ugandan government is facing up to the fact that HIV is still a big problem in the country, rather than basking in the praise it once received for fighting the epidemic. But it would be a shame to see the country going down the route of returning to the sort of conditions that allowed HIV to spread in the first place.



HIV testing said...

HIV patients are increasing at an alariming rate. It has been found that, one in three HIV infected person in U.S is unaware about it and it is passing the disease on to others. Many don't get it checked because of expenses and other reasons. Everyone should get oneself checked after every three months for precaution.

Simon said...

You're right, people should get tested, but making testing compulsory could give rise to the people who are most at risk avoiding getting tested.