Uganda assents to regional HIV/Aids Bill

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni has assented to the HIV/Aids regional Bill, 2010, which seeks to prevent and manage the menace and also promote the rights of the infected.

The East African Community HIV and Aids Prevention and Management Bill, 2010, was a private members’ initiative aimed at mandating partner states to play a key role in controlling and managing the deadly disease.

It now mandates partner states to provide HIV/Aids related services, guarantee the right to privacy of people living with HIV/Aids and prohibiting HIV related discrimination and ensuring provision of quality health care and social services for persons living with HIV and their caregivers.

With about 5 million EAC people living with HIV/Aids, Kenya and Uganda have assented to the Bill that was awaiting assent by the Tanzania President's nod.

Once it is assented to by all the heads of state, it will become law to be implemented by all the three nations.

The Bill also mandates the partner states to promote utmost safety and universal precautions in practices and procedures that carry the risk of HIV transmission.

The patients

The Uganda Network on Law, Ethics and HIV/Aids, in unison with civil society HIV/Aids rights’ activists, the key stakeholders in the Bill during a press conference in Kampala Wednesday, hailed President Museveni on the move.

They, however, urged Parliament to domesticate the East African legislation they said had the best practices.

“In the Ugandan HIV/Aids Prevention Bill, the role of the state is hazy and not clear because it puts the burden of responsibility from the government to the HIV/Aids person, yet the state has a major mandate to ensure the patients are taken well care of,” said Mr Leonald Okello, a member of UGANET.

The HIV/Aids Prevention and Control Bill, 2010, currently before the Parliamentary HIV/Aids Committee, among others, legislates for the criminalisation of the intentional spread of HIV/Aids, forced testing and disclosure of one’s status.

The Bill has, however, been rejected by  local and international human rights activists saying that it promoted discrimination of people living with the disease and may affect the gains the country had so far made in combating the disease.

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