Uganda Should Address HIVAIDS-Related Stigma, Discrimination To Fight Spread of Disease, Report Says
Social stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS in Uganda is undermining efforts to fight the spread of the disease and should be addressed, according to a report released Wednesday by the Open Society Institute East Africa Initiative, the New Vision/AllAfrica.com reports.
According to the New Vision/AllAfrica.com, the report focused on HIV/AIDS in relation to human rights and legal services in Uganda. The report documented common abuses faced by people living with HIV/AIDS or those at risk of the disease, including barriers to education, discrimination in accessing medical care, forced HIV testing and violations of medical privacy. Anne Gathumbi -- an OSIEA program officer who presented the findings in Kampala, Uganda -- said the country has improved HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention and treatment but has done little to ensure that the rights of people living with the disease are protected. She added that people living with HIV/AIDS in Uganda are "denied employment based on their [HIV status], women are denied property after the death of their husbands and orphans drop out of school or are disregarded by their relatives."
The report recommended that the country strengthen the enforcement of laws aimed at preventing HIV/AIDS-related stigma and discrimination. It also called for support to community-based groups that provide legal aid services because local courts are not being utilized to address HIV-related rights abuses, the New Vision/AllAfrica.com reports.
HIV/AIDS advocate Beatrice Were said the government had abandoned its role to defend human rights, leaving such responsibilities to civil society groups, which often lack sufficient resources and expertise. Binaifer Nowrojee, director of OSIEA, said, "As a global leader in HIV prevention and treatment, Uganda must set a better example on HIV and human rights." Nowrojee added that Uganda "can't effectively respond to the AIDS crisis without protecting the rights of the most marginalized people" (Baguma/Ouma, New Vision/AllAfrica.com, 5/29).