Civil society organizations reacted harshly to the assent by President Museveni on July 31 2014 to Uganda’s controversial HIV Bill, the HIV Prevention and Control Act of 2014, which was passed on May 13 2014 by Ugandan Parliament. This law has been publicly criticized by officials leading the HIV response in Uganda, such as the AIDS Control Programme of the Ministry of Health and the Uganda AIDS Commission, entities that repeatedly told media that this Act would take Uganda’s AIDS response in ‘the wrong direction.
The law has been assessed by experts in Uganda such as UNAIDS and the Ugandan Human Rights Commission, as discriminatory, with key provisions that will impede the fight against AIDS. The controversial provisions in the Act include: mandatory HIV testing for pregnant women and their partners, and allows medical providers to disclose a patient’s HIV status to others without consent. The bill also criminalizes HIV transmission, attempted transmission, and behavior that might result in transmission by those who know their HIV status.
Mandatory HIV testing and the disclosure of medical information without consent are contrary to international best practices and violate fundamental human rights. The criminalization of HIV transmission, attempted transmission, and behavior that might result in transmission by those who know their HIV status is overly broad, and difficult to enforce.
The Uganda Harm Reduction Network is gravely concerned that this Law will drive people who use drugs at risk of HIV infection, further from life-saving services they need.
The act is also not concerned with the challenges that people who use drugs face, such as stigma and discrimination, police harassments and other human rights violations. It is from this background that the Uganda harm reduction Network, along with other civil society organisations, seeks support to mobilize its community and other stakeholders to conduct an advocacy and campaign to raise our voices against the negative sections of the HIV control Act 2014 which makes drug users in Uganda more vulnerable, hindering their access to HIV services, health care and other Harm reduction services.
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