By Henry Sekanjako
MPs have maintained a provision compelling men to a mandatory HIV/AIDS testing alongside their pregnant partners.
The provision is contained in the HIV/AIDS prevention and Control Bill 2010 report which was tabled before parliament last for debate.
In the report by the parliamentary committee on health, the MPs said the move was intended to protect the rights of people to life, and to place an obligation on each other to be responsible.
“The committee considered the differing views on this clause and formed a strong opinion that the spirit of the clause is not to remove rights of individuals but rather to protect lives,” said Kenneth Omona the committee chairperson.
However, during the scrutinizing of the Bill, some stakeholders opposed the provision saying it doesn’t provide for informed consent, thereby making testing mandatory.
In the report, the stakeholders argue that mandatory HIV testing violates fundamental rights to the security of the person and the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health protected by the international treaties, to which Uganda is a party.
“Those mandatory testing provisions threaten the health of those tested , without protecting the health of third parties, which is partly the rationale of such testing,” the reports states.
Those against the provision also indicated that mandatory testing of victims of sexual crimes threatens victims’ rights and may inadvertently harm them further as it can call into questions the source of their infection and their past sexual activity.
The report also quotes the stakeholders in support of the provision saying in the case of the pregnant women, it is important that expectant mothers are tested so as to take the necessary steps to save the unborn child from contracting HIV.
They also observed that clauses 14, sub clause (c) of the Bill brings both prospective parents, to participate in ensuring that the unborn child is not exposed to HIV infection.
The report also recommends for deletion of clauses 21 and 23 which provide for exceptions to confidentiality and partner notification.
“There was a general worry that ‘partner notification’ proposed under clause 23 was likely to lead to forced disclosure by women to male sexual partners who could expose women to violence and other abuses," read the report.