Guerillas Order HIV Testing for All Residents in Colombian Town
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a guerilla group that has taken control of parts of Colombia in the country's internal war, has ordered all teen and adult residents of the town Vista Hermosa to be tested for HIV, Reuters reports. Vista Hermosa, which is located in the Meta Province in southern Colombia, is part of a demilitarized zone that was ceded temporarily to the rebels by Colombian President Andres Pastrana almost three years ago. Several months ago -- the exact date is not clear -- FARC's military commander Jorge Briceno told the residents of Vista Hermosa that all men and women over the age of 12 had to be screened for HIV. The testing is being performed at a local hospital, and Briceno gave no reason for the testing other than that it was part of a "health campaign." The orders mark the first time that the FARC has ordered "massive" HIV testing, a practice that is illegal in Colombia, Reuters reports. Jacobo Matus, health secretary for the Meta Province, said that mandatory HIV screening is not legal and "violates the rights to intimacy." No actions have been taken so far against those who have tested positive for the virus, but residents fear that HIV-positive individuals might be expelled from the region by the guerillas (Abultaif, Reuters, 10/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.