HIV/Aids

11 August 2006

Forced HIV tests under fire

Saudi Arabia and India are among a number of countries violating civil liberties by adopting coercive policies for HIV testing, alleges the group Human Rights Watch.

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Saudi Arabia and India are among a number of countries violating civil liberties by adopting coercive policies for HIV testing, alleges the group Human Rights Watch. HIV is the virus that causes Aids.

A press release issued by the New York-based group said an increasing number of nations are either proposing or using mandatory or discriminatory HIV test programmes that often fail to ensure confidentiality, Agence France Presse reported.

The fear and stigma associated with these kinds of programmes may make people try to avoid testing and contribute to the spread of HIV, the group said. The release was issued a few days before Sunday's start of the 16th International AIDS Conference in Toronto.

"There is little or no evidence that HIV testing by itself has any impact on this deadly epidemic. But voluntary HIV testing programmes that respect rights, ensure confidentiality and are linked to counselling and treatment have been enormously successful," said Joe Amon, head of the HIV/AIDS section of Human Rights Watch.

One state in India has proposed mandatory pre-marital testing for HIV, while another state proposed HIV testing for all people seeking or holding a driver's license, AFP reported.

United Nations' organisations including the World Health Organization and UNAIDS must update their guidelines to clearly state that HIV testing should be linked to counselling and medical care, Human Rights Watch urged. – (HealthDayNews)

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HIV/Aids Centre

August 2006

 

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Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria before working for an HIV/AIDS NPO in Soweto for many years. She was named one of the Mail & Guardian's Top 200 Young South Africans in 2012.

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