Uganda's New HIV/AIDS Control Bill Endangers Progress in Fighting HIV

Published: July 22, 2011

Last April the Uganda Health and Science Press Association (UHSPA-Uganda) issued a joint civil society statement providing a reasoned analysis from an LGBTI perspective of the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Bill under consideration in Uganda’s Parliament. On Wednesday, against the advice of the joint civil society coalition and other international organisations, the Uganda Parliament backed a new version of the bill that seeks to mandate HIV testing and criminalise the intentional spread of HIV.

The well-reasoned memorandum issued by a Uganda joint civil society coalition last April challenged the following sections of the bill:

Mandatory testing (Sections 13, 14, 15 and 17);
Mandatory or unauthorized disclosure of HIV Status testing (Sections 4 (2), 9 (2), 12, 19 (2), 21, 22, 23 and 25 (3)); and
Criminalization of Intentional Transmission of HIV/AIDS (Sections 39 and 41)
According to the Daily Monitor, these sections remain intact in the new bill:

Briefing the new members on the Parliamentary HIV/Aids committee about their expectations, work plan and how far the eighth Parliament had gone with scrutinising the controversial Bill, the new committee chairperson, Ms Rosemary Najjemba Muyinda (NRM, Gomba) said most of the controversial clauses in the Bill were dropped.

“The Bill is now in its advanced stages since it was discussed by our colleagues in the eighth Parliament. So many stakeholders have been consulted and all the contentious issues were dropped. The Bill once passed into law will protect those without HIV from being infected. We have to take the Bill forward,” Ms Najjemba said.

She said the principles in the Bill were agreeable to the committee members since they are aimed at combating the intentional spread of HIV/Aids.

“For example why should someone infect the other with aids intentionally? That is a crime that should not go unpunished,” she said.

The controversial Bill that hands down a 10 year penalty in jail to individuals that knowingly infect others with the deadly aids disease has faced a lot of criticism from the human rights defenders both local and international.

They argue that the Bill violates human rights and threatens the progress the country has so far attained in fighting HIV/Aids as it legislates for mandatory testing for HIV and forced disclosure of HIV status.

Some of the human rights defenders against the Bill include Action Aid International,l Uganda Global AIDS Alliance,United States,the Global Forum on MSM & HIV United States,Global Coalition of Women against AIDS in Uganda,Uganda Network of AIDS Service Organisation (UNASO) and Uganda Young Positives among others.

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