Uganda Lawmakers Drafting Bill That Would Penalize People Who Knowingly Transmit HIV, Official Says
Ugandan lawmakers are drafting a bill that would penalize people who knowingly transmit HIV, Emmanuel Otala, state health minister in charge of primary health care, said on Tuesday at the East African Civil Society Network for HIV/AIDS conference in Kampala, Uganda, the Daily Monitor reports. According to Otala, the Ministry of Gender is working to have the bill considered by Parliament within two months.
According to the Monitor, President Yoweri Museveni earlier this year suggested that a law be drafted and enacted to penalize people who knowingly transmit HIV. "People who infect others [with HIV] deliberately are killers," Museveni said, adding that a person living with the virus "should first declare that he is infected."
Otala also called on delegates at the conference to support efforts aimed at reducing the stigma associated with the disease. More than 40 delegates from HIV/AIDS-related nongovernmental organizations in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda are attending the meeting. He also asked delegates to encourage the public to receive HIV tests and counseling. According to Otala, only 6.4% of HIV-positive people in Uganda are aware of their status. Over 1,000 people register monthly to receive no-cost antiretroviral drugs in Uganda, Otala said, adding that only 30% of the country's population voluntarily has been tested. According to a recent survey, there are one million people living with HIV/AIDS in the country, but only 95,000 have enrolled to receive no-cost antiretrovirals, Otala said. He added that the survey found HIV/AIDS prevalence is increasing among married couples compared with unmarried people in the country (Magumba/Muyita, Daily Monitor, 6/21).