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FW: Need for Linking National HIV/AIDS Policies in Africa with Hu man Rights (fwd)

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  • Bell, Elizabeth
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 26, 2000
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      > -----Original Message-----
      > From: S. Nageer [SMTP:snageer@...]
      > Sent: Wednesday, January 26, 2000 12:27 PM
      > Subject: Need for Linking National HIV/AIDS Policies in Africa with
      > Human Rights (fwd)
      >
      > another interesting article
      >
      > ---------- Forwarded message ----------
      >
      > Need for Linking National HIV/AIDS Policies in Africa with Human Rights
      > - Alex Otieno
      >
      > When faced with epidemics, the tendency of most governments has been to
      > react and pass legislation that is deemed to curb the epidemic. The
      > problem with this approach is that more often than not it neglects the
      > human rights dimension of public health and leads to discrimination of
      > those already marginalized by poverty and social status.
      >
      > Thus, at the end of the day policies that seek the control of individuals
      > by governments and their agencies such as those that require compulsory
      > screening and testing, isolation and quarantine, or those that prevent
      > some individuals from immigrating should be questioned before and after
      > they are implemented. If such policies are found to be ineffective in
      > improving the health of their target populations and/or the general
      > pubic, then they should be actively opposed.
      >
      > A good case in point of a policy proposal that needs to be critiqued is
      > Kenya's mandatory HIV testing for couples who wish to get married. If
      > this draft legislation that Kenya's Attorney General, Mr. Amos Wako,
      > recently informed the public about sails through parliament, then it will
      > be a quintessential case of the kind of laws and policies that am
      > referring to in this piece. A policy that may scare people from marriage,
      > risk-making people fear testing and turn people away from seeking help.
      >
      > We can all imagine what will happen to women who test positive in a
      > sero-discordant couple. A writer for the Village Voice recently
      > documented such a case in Nyanza province in Kenya (a woman who was
      > rejected ... when she was diagnosed with HIV). Thus this policy may
      > increase the stigma and discrimination that some people living with
      > HIV/AIDS have already been dealing with while offering no help to those
      > infected. Thus a positive test in Kenya may soon be similar to being
      > branded with a pariah sign.
      >
      > Additionally, there is the problem of this policy potentially
      > contributing to misleading sense of safety for people with false
      > negatives and causing trauma and unnecessary emotional and psychological
      > pain to those with a false positive test. Further, the fact that the
      > government of Kenya does not provide HAART or prophylaxis against
      > opportunistic infections makes this testing policy a bad one.
      >
      > Other questions that comes to mind are those that revolve around the cost
      > and modalities of implementing such a policy. Can Kenya afford to test
      > all it's citizens who are ready to get married? If so, what mechanism
      > will be used to effect this policy when a large proportion of Kenyans
      > still get married under customary law? What mechanisms will be put in
      > place to protect the confidentiality of test results?
      >
      > The list of possible flaws with such laws and their effects are endless
      > and need to be considered by those involved in HIV/AIDS prevention and
      > care programs. Kenya's proposed legislation is therefore a good example
      > of policies that may be thought to be serving public health but may have
      > adverse health effects on individuals and communities.
      >
      > It is incumbent on us to do something about such policies and prevent the
      > harm they may cause. We must challenge local policies with the same
      > energy that we challenge the policies of the western nations.
      >
      > Alex Otieno
      > E-mail: alexo@...
      >
      > --------------------------------------------------------
      > - A posting from af-aids@...
      > - Browse previous postings or post new messages at:
      > http://www.hivnet.ch:8000/africa/af-aids/
      > - Reproduction welcomed, provided source and forum email address is quoted
      >
      >
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