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