By Madinah Tebajjukira
A NEW Bill concerning the prevention of the spread of HIV/AIDS and the plight of people living with the virus is in the offing.
The HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Bill provides that a person or an agency which denies a person living with HIV a job, commits an offence.
Such a person is liable to three-months imprisonment or a fine of not less than sh500,000 or both.
Clause 32 of the Bill reads: â€œA person shall not be denied access to employment of which he or she is qualified or transferred, denied promotion or have his /her employment terminated on ground of his /her actual, perceived or suspected HIV status.â€
HIV/AIDS committee chairperson Beatrice Rwakimari also said: â€œIf this Bill is approved it will make it mandatory for the UPDF and other security outfits to employ people living with HIV.â€
She made the remarks over the weekend during a national consultation workshop on the Bill at the Commonwealth Resort in Munyonyo.
The Parliamentary committee on HIV/AIDS is conducting national and regional consultations on the Bill.
The Bill, drafted by the Uganda Law Reform Commission, will soon be presented to Parliament after the consultations.
The participants, who included legislators and stakeholders from mainly NGOs dealing with HIV/AIDS, suggested that the army should first be consulted on the matter before the Bill is approved.
However, Maj. Rubaramira Ruranga, who has lived with HIV for 25 years, said there was no problem with a person living with HIV to join the army as long the CD4 was good.
â€œI was in the army when I was HIV positive, but never at any one time did I fail to perform because of my sero status. Nevertheless, if an HIV patient is to join the army, he or she must know that there is a lot of vigorous exercise to be undertaken,â€ Rubaramira warned.
Te current situation is that the UPDF subjects candidates to an HIV test and those found HIV positive are not recruited.
UPDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Felix Kulaigye noted that it was important to examine the employment policy of UPDF before the Bill is enacted into law.
The Bill outlaws the expulsion of people from school suspected of being HIV positive. It also bans restricting a personâ€™s freedom of movement on grounds of his/her HIV status.
More so, if the Bill is enacted into law, any person who knowingly transmits HIV to another person, commits an offence and shall be liable to life imprisonment.
The proposed law, if implemented, shall require the Government to provide care and support to persons living with HIV.
The HIV prevalence rate in Uganda has risen from 6% to 6.4%. Of all institutions and security agencies in the country, the Prisons force is the most affected with the pandemic.