Ugandan Armed Forces To Halt Training for HIV-Positive Soldiers
The Ugandan armed forces no longer will train HIV-positive soldiers because of fears that doing so could result in adverse health effects for the HIV-positive soldiers, military spokesperson Maj. Felix Kulaije said on Tuesday, AFP/TODAYonline.com reports (AFP/TODAYonline.com, 4/4). According to Brig. Silver Moses Kayemba, the army's chief of operations and training, the military made the decision because it was losing more soldiers to HIV/AIDS-related causes than to conflict (Monitor/AllAfrica.com, 4/3). "We do not want to put any more stress on our brothers who are already suffering," Kulaije said, adding, "This move was made out of our concern for their health." According to Kulaije, the decision also is part of an effort to professionalize the country's military, which has 40,000 members (Reuters South Africa, 4/4). In addition, armed forces recruits now are required to undergo testing for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, hepatitis, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes before enlistment, Kulaije said. Recruits found to be living with any of these conditions will be banned from service, and active soldiers with any of the conditions will not be considered for advancement or new training, according to Kulaije. Although Kulaije said that the decision was based on "humanitarian grounds," some HIV/AIDS advocates said it was the result of fear and ignorance, according to AFP/TODAYonline.com. "HIV does not stop anybody from doing anything, provided that [the] person is on treatment," Rubaramira Ruranga, head of Uganda's National Guidance and Empowerment Network of People Living With HIV/AIDS, said. Ruranga said that he was not opposed to the adoption of recruitment standards provided they are not discriminatory and likely to estrange HIV-positive people. According to Kulaije, the military has taken appropriate steps concerning HIV-positive soldiers, including providing antiretroviral drug therapy at no cost (AFP/TODAYonline.com, 4/4).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.